Qatargas II rounds out financing packages

03 September 2004
The multi-tranche financing package for Qatar Liquefied Gas Company II (Qatargas II)is being filled out with mandate awards imminent on the Islamically structured facility, bookrunners assigned for the syndication of the commercial debt and progress on the export credits tranche.

A separate sterling-denominated bond for the part financing of the regassification terminal at Milford Haven in Wales is also fast approaching the market. It is understood that five banks have been mandated, with Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)and UBS winning the lead manager mandates, and Barclays Capital, HSBC and Lehman Brothersbeing appointed as co-managers. It is expected that the estimated £400 million ($720 million) bond will have a tenor of 25 years.

On the main facility, the $530 million Islamic tranche will be lead arranged by seven banks. Kuwait Finance House is taking $150 million, Dubai Islamic Bank$100 million, Qatar National Bank (QNB)$80 million and four others - Qatar Islamic Bank, BNP Paribas, Gulf International Bank (GIB)and HSBC - each taking $50 million.

'There are some fundamental structuring issues that need to be resolved or there will be problems with sharia committees, but there is nothing that is a deal breaker from the perspective of ExxonMobil [Corporation of the US ]or QP [Qatar Petroleum - the joint venture partners in Qatargas II ],' says a banker close to the deal. 'This will all go through fine.' The Islamic tranche has the same tenor and pricing structure as the conventional facility, and has a straightforward sale and leaseback structure.

Bankers say that negotiations on about $1,000 million worth of export credits from the US' Export-Import Bank (Exim Bank) and Italy's Sace are moving ahead smoothly and should be completed by the mid-November deadline for financial close.

If this is the case, and the Islamic tranche is completed on schedule, then the commercial debt facility will be scaled back. Commitments totalling $3,600 million have been received on the 15-year deal (MEED 27:8:04). The mandated lead arrangers (MLAs) were paid fees of 100 basis points.

'The sponsors have been working on the export credits for a long time,' says one of the 36 MLAs. 'The commercial debt will almost certainly be scaled back to somewhere around $2,500 million.'

Roles have been assigned on the commercial tranche: BNP Paribas is the documentation bank/commercial bank facility agent and inter-creditor agent; HSBC is the Sace agent; Barclays Capitalis the Exim agent; and Citigroupis the security trustee and offshore accounts bank.

For the general syndication, the international bookrunners are ABN Amro, Sumitomo-Mitsui Banking Corporationand RBS, and the two regional bookrunners are GIB and QNB. Syndication will not be launched until after financial close, and sources close to the deal say that realistically January is being targeted.

'There should be plenty of appetite still out there, despite the size of the MLA group,' says one of the MLAs. 'There are a number of very liquid regional banks that are interested in the deal but were too small to come after the $100 million ticket size. Equally, there are plenty of international banks that are still interested. LNG [liquefied natural gas] has a 60-bank universe and this is a very well structured transaction.'

RBS is the financial adviser to Qatargas II.

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