‘The document implies that the PIM [preliminary information memorandum] will be issued in late September,’ says a banker interested in the transaction. ‘It states that the core component of the package will be placed in the regional and international markets and that there is expected to be some alternative sources tapped as well. Interestingly, there is no explicit mention of export credits, which comes as a surprise as Bahrain is an experienced user of covered facilities, but it is too early to think that ECAs [export credit agencies] won’t be used.’

Taylor-DeJonghwas appointed as financial adviser by Alba in June and has been very active in sounding the market, banking sources say (MEED 21:6:02). ‘They seem to be doing a good job on the information gathering front – we won’t know how good until the PIM comes out – which is reassuring,’ says another banker following the deal. ‘One of the key issues will be whether the banks bid in groups or are forced to table proposals on an individual basis.’

Most of the banks will be hoping that the former option is available. Tentative groups formed last year have gone through a number of permutations (MEED 26:7:02). The group comprising Citibank, Gulf International Bank, Mizuho Financial Group and National Bank of Bahrain continues to be only loosely bound, but still intact. Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishiis thought to have fallen out of the group including BNP Paribas, HSBC Investment Bankand Barclays Capital: they have been joined by National Bank of Abu Dhabi. The third group, comprising Arab Banking Corporation, ANZ Investment Bank, Bank of Bahrain & Kuwaitand Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, has seen only one change over the summer, the departure of Deutsche Bank.

Although no official announcement has been made, it is widely assumed that the Alba borrowing has leapfrogged the project finance for Bahrain Petroleum Company and will be brought to market first (MEED 15:3:02).