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Angolan oil firm Sociedade Nacional de Combustiveis de Angola Empresa Publica (Sonangol) has launched general syndication of a US$550mn syndicated oil backed loan facility. Joint bookrunners and mandated lead arrangers are Fortis Bank, Standard Bank London and UFJ Bank. BNP Paribas is expected to join the deal at a senior level during this month.

The facility is underpinned by an oil receivable contract (up to 25,000 bpd) with Nissho Iwai Europe plc, one of the largest diversified Japanese general trading companies. The primary structure of the facility is enhanced by a hedging mechanism to mitigate the price risk.

The margin will be 325bp over Libor for the first three years and 3bp thereafter. Fees are set at 65bp for commitments of US$30mn, 55bp for US$25mn, 45bp for US$10mn and 40bp for US$5mn.

Sonangol has requested that the facility be structured in two tranches:

A fully underwritten tranche of US$330mn which was drawn on November 12. This tranche is fully underwritten by the lead arrangers and Nissho Iwai Corp.

A “best efforts” tranche of up to US$220mn which is expected to be drawn in the first quarter of 2004. Sonangol reserves the right to determine the amount of the “best efforts” tranche at its sole discretion upon close of syndication.

Sonangol last approached the debt market in August with a US$1.14bn facility.

Mandated lead arrangers then were Banque Belgolaise, BNP Paribas, Natexis Banques Populaires and SG.

Sonangol taps the international syndicated loan market on a regular basis and frequently sees a healthy oversubscription on their facilities.

Sonangol is the Angolan state-owned oil company and the second largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa.