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Banks, ECAs close complex financing deal in Zambia

Africa / 10-01-18 / by
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Bluebird Finance & Projects, four banks and two European export credit agencies have closed a US$165mn complex financing package for the construction of a new hospital in Zambia.

The loan is being extended to Zambia’s ministry of finance and covers 100% of the EPC contract, which is being undertaken by a large international construction company.

Israel-based Bluebird, a financial services firm specialising in facilitating complex finance solutions for large-scale infrastructures projects, structured the package and led the process until closing.

Investec is the lead arranger on the facility, Israel Discount Bank is a senior lender and Dutch bank ING is a lender. A fourth, Africa-based bank, which also took part in the financing, has not yet been named.

The financing package was arranged with the support from two European ECAs, covering roughly half of the financing, with a 13-year tenor. According to Ram Shalita, CEO of Bluebird, the other half is made up by “other unique commercial instruments”, including a nine-year loan.

“The main complexity was Zambia as a location, because it’s changing, there are difficulties, there are discussions with the IMF,” Shalita tells GTR. “And with several banks and insurers it’s much more complicated. It involved four banks, which makes it a very heavy structure, and two ECAs and a few commercial facilities, so we have quite a lot of facilities in this project.”

The firm, he says, has been working on the project for more than a year. “The commercial facility was a long process. We were quite creative because we managed to get long tenors for the commercial part, which is usually not so easy,” he adds.

Construction of the hospital, located in Lusaka, has commenced and is expected to take three years. According to Shalita, it will be the “most modern hospital” in the country.

“Besides the construction there is a lot of medical equipment that will come from Europe. Many features of this medical equipment will be the first in Zambia, so it’s a very important project,” he explains.

The deal adds to a number of other successful financing agreements that Bluebird was behind last year, totalling some US$300mn.

The company says it is currently in the final stages of closing several additional projects in Africa in the water treatment and agriculture sectors for a total of US$140mn. In addition, it has a pipeline of deals for 2018 worth a total of US$420mn in the housing, roads and IT sectors.

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