‘We are hoping to have the refinancing completed by May/June,’ says an SG official. ‘I would expect to have a lead arranging group appointed by March with the information memorandum issued in February.’

It is understood that Qafac is aiming to refinance about $300 million of the facility put in place in 1997. The original package had two tranches: a $140 million, 12-year commercial facility, and a $210 million, Canadian export-credit-backed, 10-year package. The lead arrangers were Bankers Trust International, now part of Deutsche Bank, Banque Paribas, now part of BNP Paribas, Canada’s Export Development Corporation, Sumitomo Bank, Bank of Taiwan, Chinatrust Commercial Bank, First Commercial Bankand Gulf International Bank (GIB– MEED 19:12:97).

With Qatar having a number of other refinancings and a steady flow of primary deals in the pipeline, the route to Qafac’s refinancing will come under close examination.

‘We will look at the possibility of doing a bond, but my initial feeling is that it is unlikely that markets will change enough within our timeframe for this to be attractive,’ says the SG banker. ‘Commercial debt is the likely solution at this stage.’

Among the banks competing with SG for the advisory mandate were BNPParibas, Barclays Capitaland GIB (MEED 30:11:01).