Banks cautious over unique Ras Laffan financing model

15 November 2007
The financing model being used for the development of the Ras Laffan C power plant is facing difficulties, with banks nervous about the structure of the deal.

The unique model involves Qatar Petroleum (QP) raising about $2,500 million worth of project financing for the plant, and then transferring the funds to the winning developer.

However, because bidders are not arranging their own financing, they have had to submit bids without being fully aware of the financing terms that will be arranged.

In addition, Royal Bank of Scotland, which is advising QP on raising the financing, is unable to begin marketing the debt to banks until a developer is chosen. HSBC is advising the General Electricity & Water Corporation (Kahramaa), which will buy the plant’s output.

Bankers close to the deal say QP believes it can secure cheaper funding than the consortiums bidding, which are led by the UK’s International Power, Japan’s Marubeni Corporation, and Belgium’s Suez Energy.

Banks likely to be courted to join the project finance banking group are reportedly nervous about the structure and long tenor of the debt package.

A winning bidder will be chosen by the end of November, which will then allow QP and RBS to begin approaching the debt markets for financing.

According to a financial adviser close to the deal, QP will own a 20 per cent stake in the project company, the winning consortium will hold 40 per cent, and Kahramaa will hold the remainder.

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