Sohar refinery debt flies

20 November 2003
General syndication of the $647 million commercial debt tranche of the financing package for Sohar Refinery Company (SRC) closed on 12 November heavily oversubscribed.

Commitments totalling over $600 million were received from 24 international and regional financial institutions and at least two more - one German bank and a Bahrain-based regional institution - were still pondering over whether they might join the transaction. About $345 million was offered by regional banks: four from Oman, three from Qatar, two from Bahrain, six from the UAE and Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (Apicorp). The eight international banks to make commitments were all European and the interest from German institutions has been uncharacteristically strong.

'This syndication is a candidate for deal of the year,' says one of the participants. 'And this is because the MLAs [mandated lead arrangers] got two things right. The timing was perfect - there are a lot of banks that are seeing the end of the year rushing towards them and they want to get some assets booked. Second, they've got the structure right - some of the participants are on board because they like the fact that the deal is covered on all sides: the government guarantees are good.'

Decisions over scaling back the allocations are expected to be completed rapidly and documentation signing is scheduled for 24 November. The full signing is due to take place in London on 12 December.

During the syndication, tickets of $35 million are being offered with fees of 110 basis points (bp) on the 14-year transaction (MEED 3:10:03).

The margin on the commercial tranche has a step-up structure. Pre-completion pricing has been set at 90 basis points (bp) over Libor. The pricing in post-completion starts at 105 bp and rises in four steps to 160 bp.

Gulf International Bank, HSBCand BNP Paribasare acting as joint bookrunners on the syndication. The other lead arrangers are Arab Bank, ANZ Investment Bank, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Credit Agricole Indosuez, Mizuho Financial Group, Societe Generaleand Sumitomo-Mitsui Banking Corporation. Bank of Americais the financial adviser (MEED 18:4:03).

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