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Financiera de Desarrollo Nacional (Financier of National Development, FDN) has announced the financial close of the Antioquia-Bolívar road PPP. The 491km road will link the Colombian departments of Antioquia, Córdoba, Sucre and Bolívar, which house 25% of the national population. Crucially, it will serve travellers en route to Cauca Valley, which includes Buenaventura, the largest and busiest seaport in Colombia, moving about 8,500,000 tons of merchandise, and the coffee-growing region of the country (Eje Cafetero).
The project involves the construction of 112.2km of road, rehabilitation and upgrading of 225.9km and operation and maintenance of a further 154km. Ownership of the project belongs to the Ruta al Mar (an alternative name for the road, meaning "route to the sea") Concession consortium. The consortium has contracted Construcciones El Cóndor, a Colombian firm.
To date, it has generated 1,405 jobs. Once complete in 2021, it is hoped that the road will take 37% of long-distance traffic off local roads.
The total project investment amounts to COP1.47 trillion (US$490 million). The financial package secured comprises a COP400 billion (US$133.4 million) loan from FDN, a loan of just under COP280 billion (US$93.4 million) from a local bank, a loan of approximately COP275 billion (US$91.7 million) from Ashmore CAF, a Colombian debt infrastructure fund, and the issuing of over COP520 billion (US$173.4 million) in bonds.
Goldman Sachs was in charge of structuring the bond issue. The bonds were issued in the country's inflation-indexed currency unit UVR. The bonds will mature in 26.2 years. The coupon rate is 6.75%. COP45 billion (US$15 million) of bonds were acquired by FDN.
This financial package is somewhat groundbreaking. The Antioquia-Bolívar road is the first PPP to achieve financial close through the issuing of bonds.
Furthermore, this project is part of the Colombian government's 4G highways program, which is groundbreaking in itself. It is the largest road infrastructure program in Latin America today. The government envisage investing US$16 billion to build over 4,400 miles of new roads, 88 miles of tunnels, and 94 miles of bridges before the end of the decade. The program involves concessions for over 20 highways and roads and, over the last few years, the project’s first two phases adjudicated 19 of the 40 concessions. Improving the links between major ports and major cities is a key objective.
In the past week, FDN also approved a COP500 billion package of debt financing for another project in the 4G program: the Bogotá-Girardot highway. This project involves the upgrading of 145km and construction of 65km of road. It will better link Bogota to the port of Buenaventura, a popular strategic route, and the transport hub in Girardot, from which one can travel to the Cordillera Central, the highest of the three branches of the Colombian Andes, the south of Colombia, the Pacific coast and Ecuador. To read more about this, see the Project Profile.