Although nominally a joint mandate, it is understood that Goldman Sachs will perform the lead role on the transaction and CSFB will have a secondary role.

The bond is expected to be launched in mid-March 2004, coinciding with the relaxation of pre-payment penalty clauses on RasGas’ existing commercial debt that that the issue will partly be replacing (MEED 7:11:03). Also reflecting its primary refinancing role, the bond issue will have a tenor of five years, matching the maturity of the commercial debt.

It is understood that no decision has yet been taken as to whether the joint lead managers will be providing any underwriting commitment on the transaction.

The award of the mandate has been rapid following the request for proposals issued to a select group of eight banks in mid-October and the drawing up of a shortlist in early November (MEED 24:10:03).

One of the key determinants in the selection of the lead managers was their capacity to deliver proper diversification. Given Doha’s aggressive borrowing schedule over the next five years, the need for access to multiple liquidity pools is becoming more urgent, and the decision to take RasGas – a proven, strong project – back to the bond market is an important part of this process.