Alba takes export credits after all

17 April 2003
After a prolonged period of discussion, the decision has finally been taken by Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) to opt for an export credits facility as the last tranche of its $1,550 million borrowing. BNP Paribasand HSBChave been mandated as lead arrangers for the $300 million facility. BNP will act as the facility agent and documentation bank (MEED 11:4:03).

As MEED went to press, no final decision had been made over whether French or Swiss export credits, or a combination of the two, would be used. The relative advantages of the French Coface and Swiss Export Garantie (ERG) are shaped by the tenor available and the possibility of obtaining fixed margins.

European export credits will replace a proposed $300 million tranche discussed with the Japan Bank for International Co-operation and United Financial Japan Bank (UFJ - MEED 14:3:03).

Bankers involved in the Alba financing have long debated the relative merits of the two proposed tranches and eventually an independent auditor was appointed to assess the proposals. It is understood that, despite some of the seemingly higher costs associated with the European export credits, the longer maturity available and the better use of the underlying security tipped the balance away from the Japanese solution, even though it was actively supported by Alba's financial advisers Taylor-DeJongh.

It is expected that the export credits facility will be quickly put in place - considerable work has already been done in anticipation of its selection - and will be signed before the summer.

Placement of the fourth tranche, the $200 million local currency bond, is under way. Lead arranged by Securities & Investment Company, National Bank of Bahrain, Bank of Bahrain & Kuwaitand Gulf Investment Corporation, the tranche is expected to be placed by the end of the April. The other three tranches- the commercial loan, the metals tranche and the Islamic facility - were signed on 7 April.

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