Financial close is expected to be achieved on 20 July on the $490 million debt package for Kuwait-based Wataniya Telecom Algeria, which was awarded in December 2003 the country’s third GSM licence with a high bid of $421 million.

The international portion, worth an estimated $175 million with a tenor of five years, will be provided by six banks: Arab Banking Corporation (ABC), Citigroup, Export Development Canada (EDC), Hypovereinsbank, Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau (KfW) and Mashreq-bank. Three development banks – Proparcoof France, Germany’s Deutsche Investitions & Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG)and the Netherlands’ Financierings Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden (FMO) – will provide coverage for $40 million of the international tranche.

The local tranche, lead arranged by Citibank Algeria, is expected to be worth an estimated $205 million and have a five-year tenor. The other participants are: BNP Paribas, Societe Generale, ABC, Arab Bank and Housing Bank of Jordan. Swedish export credit agency (ECA) Export Kredit Namden (EKN)will guarantee $140 million of the total, while a further $22 million will be covered by the three development banks.

The third tranche, estimated at $110 million, will be provided by Germany’s Hermes and have a tenor of seven years. The margin on the loans will be based on a central bank discount rate of 4 per cent. The lead arranger is Citigroup(MEED 8:10:04).

Germany’s Siemens and Sweden’s Ericssonwere in April 2004 awarded two contracts to complete the first phase of Wataniya’s Algerian GSM network (MEED 23:4:04).