Project finance deals rise in first quarter

21 April 2015

Increase is not a sign of an improving market, bankers say

  • First quarter more than 600 per cent higher than the same time last year
  • Figures skewed by one major contract
  • Rise called ‘one-off’ by bankers

A total of $10.3bn-worth of project finance deals were signed in the first three months of the year in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena), according to new figures from data provider Dealogic.

This compares to the far smaller $1.4bn-worth of deals signed in the same quarter last year.  

There were also more deals signed in Q1 2015, with a total of seven transactions recorded compared to four in Q1 2014.

Yet, bankers say that the first quarter figures have been skewed slightly by the closing of the $8.1bn project financing for the Rabigh petrochemical project phase 2 deal, signed in mid-March this year.

“It is a one-off,” says a project finance banker, who believes the pipeline for further megaproject financings in the region remains limited due to continued low oil prices.

“It is not a particularly active market – there will be a steady stream of power and water deals coming on to the market this year,” he told MEED, adding that the oil and gas sector would remain quiet.

The borrower on the megaproject is the Rabigh Refining & Petrochemical Company and the funding will support the expansion of an existing integrated refinery and petrochemicals complex.

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Saudi British Bank were financial advisers on the PetroRabigh scheme. The facility includes a tranche in Saudi Arabia’s riyal.

The remaining deals signed in Q1 were far smaller, with a number of the transactions refinancing existing debt rather than funding risky new projects.

The other deals signed this year to date include a $630m project finance deal in support of phase 3 of the North East Bab gas field project in the UAE, signed in late January. The borrower was the Italian firm Tecnimont.

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Waha Petrochemical Company completed its refinancing of its SR2.3bn ($613m) project financing in January.

In Doha, a QR1.8bn ($494m) deal was signed in support of the East West corridor expressway project in late January. The borrower was the Cyprus-based Joannou & Parakskevaides (J&P).

In Oman, the Sharqiyah Desalination Company raised $207m to partly refinance and extend existing financing for the Sur desalination independent water project. The original financing was signed in 2011.

The total value of project finance deals signed in 2014 in Mena was $22.6bn, down 52 per cent on the $46.9bn seen in 2013, according to Dealogic.

However, the 2013 figures included the signing of the $20bn Sadara Chemical Company project in Saudi Arabia, which significantly inflated that year’s total volume.

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