BBGI SICAV assumes equity of Bilfinger in Mersey Bridge

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BBGI SICAV assumes equity of Bilfinger in Mersey Bridge

Bilfinger Berger Global Infrastructure SICAV S.A. announced on 31 March 2014 that it completed the acquisition of 37.5% of the equity and subordinated debt interests in Mersey Gateway Bridge (MGB), which is the special purpose vehicle with the delegated authority to deliver the Mersey Gateway Bridge project and to administer and oversee the construction and maintenance of the new tolled crossings including the tolling of the existing Silver Jubilee Bridge.

BBGI will take over from Bilfinger Project Investments Europe's equity and subordinated debt subscription obligations amounting to approximately £20 million (US$33.3 million). The obligations will be backed by a letter of credit using the company's credit facility.

Halton Borough Council (North West England) and the Merseylink consortium reached financial close on the construction of the £450 million Mersey Gateway Project, a new six-lane toll bridge over the River Mersey on 28 March 2014.

Other equity partners in the Merseylink consortium are Macquarie Capital Group Limited and FCC Construcción. The joint venture was appointed as preferred bidder for the project in June 2013.

The Merseylink consortium has put in place finance arrangements, which includes making use of the new UK Government IUK Guarantee Scheme to guarantee £260 million of the senior debt required, with the balance of the finance provided by four banks (LloydsSMBCKfW and Crédit Agricole) and the Merseylink sponsors.

Merseylink PLC issued a £260 million 29-year guaranteed bond with HSBC as sole arranger, and Credit AgricoleHSBC and Lloyds Bank as joint bookrunners to place the bonds. Moody's Investors Service assigned an Aa1 rating with stable outlook to the guaranteed secured bonds.

The total value of the construction phase of the project, including land, is estimated at £600 million. The total project costs/revenues over the next 30 years are estimated at around £2 billion.

Frank Schramm, BBGI's co-CEO  stated:

We are excited to be involved in this critical piece of infrastructure being delivered under the new UK infrastructure investment programme. This acquisition is on accretive terms and was agreed without engaging in an auction process. The returns are attractive on a risk adjusted basis and are consistent with our policy of having some assets in construction which are expected to deliver NAV uplifts both before and on becoming operational.

Duncan Ball, BBGI's co-CEO stated:

We are very proud to be part of the team delivering this important piece of infrastructure which is a major strategic new transport route linking the Liverpool city-region and the north west to the rest of the country. The project will create more than 470 permanent full-time jobs during the construction phase and, once operational, will reduce journey times for commuters in the region and result in less congestion.

Bilfinger Berger Global Infrastructure SICAV S.A. is a closed-ended investment company. It has a portfolio of 28 infrastructure assets consisting of direct or indirect interests in investment capital in projects belonging to transport sector, justice sector, education sector, and healthcare sector. 

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