‘We are aiming for financial close in June,’ says one of the lead arrangers backing the IP bid. ‘The war in Iraq makes it difficult to call just when the syndication will be launched, but we’re working hard on this.’

The six-strong group of banks that originally backed the IP-led consortium has had two confirmed additions and the possibility of a third. National Bank of Abu Dhabiand First Gulf Bankhave both joined – the former as an underwriter and the latter taking a $75 million take-and-hold ticket. It is understood that Royal Bank of Scotlandmight also join the lead arranging group. Attempts at further expansion have been thwarted by a reluctance on the part of international houses such as BNP Paribasand Credit Agricole Indosuezto participate.

The six original banks are HSBC, Gulf International Bank, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, ING, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporationand West LB (MEED 31:1:03). The first three have underwritten the transaction and the last three have committed to take-and-hold positions.

The proposed financing package is likely to be divided into three tranches. The first is a $900 million, 20-year commercial facility. The second, worth $250 million, will also have a tenor of 20 years and will be Islamically structured: Abu Dhabi Islamic Bankis expected to lead and Kuwait Finance House and Dubai Islamic Bankare probable participants. The third tranche, a $300 million facility, will have a tenor of only five years – it will be used to finance the acquisition of existing assets on the brownfield project – and is expected to be the preserve of the regional banks in the lead arranging group.