Al-Sayegh said that a 70:30 debt/equity mix will be sought, and he confirmed that the information memorandum for the debt portion will be sent out to banks towards the end of the summer. It is expected that a lead arranging group will be mandated by September, and that the aim is for financing commitments to be in place by the end of the year and for financial close to be achieved by March 2003.

‘The schedule makes sense though it is a little aggressive,’ says an international banker following the deal closely. ‘The toughest part will be getting full commitments in place by year end if there is any drift in the award of the lead arranging mandate. To stick to the schedule there is not much room for foot dragging.’

DEL’s aim is to tap four different sources of finance. It is expected that the maximum amount of export credits will be sought. Plans are still being pursued for a bond issue and for an Islamic finance tranche, with a commercial facility covering the remainder of the financing requirement.

Bankers expect a single lead arranging mandate to be awarded for all aspects of the transaction except the bond component.

‘It is going to be difficult to get a bond away on this,’ says another international banker interested in the transaction. ‘And it might end up so complicated that this component falls away.’