IDB fund makes $150 million debut

28 March 2003
The IDB (Islamic Development Bank) Infrastructure Fund has reached agreement on its first investment. It will acquire a 32 per cent stake in Dubai-based AES Oasis, the company managing four of the regional power investments made by the US' AES Corporation. The transaction will be worth about $150 million, and the remaining 68 per cent of AES Oasis will be held by AES Corporation.

'We are expecting the deal to be completed in the second or third quarter,' says Michael Lee, deputy chairman and managing director of Emerging Markets Partnership (Bahrain), which is acting as the fund's general partner. 'We are waiting on final consent from the appropriate government authorities and from the lenders to each of the four projects.'

The investment in AES Oasis is the Infrastructure Fund's first and likely to be one of its largest. The fund was originally structured to have a cap on each investment of 10 per cent of its equity tranche, which currently stands at $780 million (MEED 18:1:02). It has recently been raised by a commitment of $30 million from Lembaga Tabung Haji, the Malaysian pilgrims' fund.

'In terms of size, this investment should be seen as the exception,' says Lee. 'We received special permission to do it, based on the grounds that there are really four underlying investments. It is an ideal structure for us.' AES Oasis is currently the holding company for AES' equity stakes in Qatar's Ras Laffan Power Companyand Oman's AES Barka- both of which produce electricity and desalinated water - and two oil-fired generators in Pakistan, AES LalPirand AES PakGen.

The investment could also open the door to future power investments by the fund. With AES completing a comprehensive debt restructuring programme late last year, AES Oasis may soon return to the bid lists for regional independent power projects (see page 18). 'If AES Oasis enters a new transaction, its shareholders, which will include the Infrastructure Fund, would participate,' says Lee.

The Infrastructure Fund is close to making other investments. 'Over the last year or so we have looked at over 100 projects in the region and drawn up a shortlist,' says Lee. 'There are quite a few good opportunities and we will definitely have made several more investments by the end of the year.'

Some of these equity investments might also be accompanied by disbursements from the $200 million complementary finance facility contained within the fund's structure. It aims to support the fund's equity investments through the provision of Islamically-structured finance.

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