First Gen Corp, a Filipino energy company, has borrowed US$500mn on a seven-year basis to refinance old debt.

Six banks joined the syndicate: Bank of Commerce, Bank of the Philippine Islands, BDO Unibank, Philippine National Bank, Security Bank Corporation and SMBC.

The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of First Gas Power Corp, one of the Philippines’ largest conglomerate companies. It operates four natural gas-fired plants, the largest of which is the 1,000MW Santa Rita in Batangas City, 100km south of Manila.

The loan will repay US$243mn of existing debt and pre-fund upcoming maturity, the company confirms in a statement.

Company president Francis Giles Puno says: “The US$500mn debt facility is a testimony to the strong support and continuing confidence of our lenders in First Gen’s natural gas business. First Gen pioneered this business about 20years ago and it has since reached even greater heights.”

He adds: “The natural gas platform now stands at 2,011MW and we are working hard to deliver the country’s first LNG terminal, as well as more natural gas-fired power plants. Today, we are honoured and grateful that our lenders continue to be supportive of our endeavours to deliver clean and cost-efficient power to Filipinos.”

The Asian lending market has been notably flat this year, with a few exceptions. Refinancing deals are always on the table and banks of all stripes are seeking some action in this market.

However, it has been reported that a greater portion of banks’ revenue in Asia is coming from transaction banking than was previously the case. In a note entitled Have you seen the latest Asian trade numbers?, analysts at Bernstein claim that both HSBC and Standard Chartered have gleaned 30 to 40% of their overall Asian revenues from the sector this year

Most analysts are more bullish on trade – so it should follow that trade finance volumes will improve by default. For instance, China’s huge increase in export volumes in March (16.4%) were jumped upon as evidence of a regional trade recovery.

Anecdotally, however, the deal flow is still slow. It will take some time before the data filters down to make a sizeable difference on trade finance volumes, is a popular consensus in the region.