‘They [the banks] have until 14 April to reply,’ says Bruce Hall, Alba’s chief executive. ‘We’ll have someone appointed within 30 days after that and then we’ll get on with putting the financing together. We’re still aiming for financial close in the fourth quarter of this year.’

The exact number of banks to have received the RFP has not been released. Among those institutions invited are understood to be Barclays Capital, BNP Paribas, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, HSBC Investment Bank, JP Morgan Chase & Companyand Taylor-DeJongh.

Taylor-DeJongh won the first-phase advisory mandate (MEED 24:8:01).

The RFP is understood to lay out the scope of work for the second-phase advisory, outlining corporate structures and requesting details of banks’ track records of arranging export-credit-backed facilities. It is expected that a sizeable proportion of the estimated $1,600 million debt financing package will come with export credit cover.

‘Alba has pretty much stuck to its schedule so far, but they might struggle to get to financial close by year end,’ says one of the international bankers looking at the transaction. ‘The Bapco [ Bahrain Petroleum Company] loan has to be wrapped up first and there is also the possibility of a sovereign loan interrupting the schedule.’

The bidders for the contract to build the potline are SNC Lavalinand Hatch Kaiser Light Metals, both of Canada, and Bechtel of the US. The engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) contract calls for the installation of a 260,000-tonne-a-year (t/y) line that will increase Alba’s capacity to about 775,000 t/y. The expansion programme also includes the addition of 650 MW of capacity to Alba’s existing 1,504-MW power plant. Alba is evaluating proposals from four international companies for this contract.