Innovative bond financing for Belgium's A-11 PPP closes

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Innovative bond financing for Belgium's A-11 PPP closes

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The Via Brugge consortium has announced that it have reached commercial close and financial close for the A11 Bruges PPP project in Belgium.

A public-private consortium of Via Brugge and Via Invest will finance the design-build-finance-maintain project through the project company Via A11.

Via Brugge comprises DG Infra, Jan De Nul NV and a number of other construction companies active in the Benelux region (Aswebo, Aclagro, Franki Construct and Van Laere). Via Invest is a joint-venture between Belgian government owned investment company PMV and the Community of Flanders.

Once complete the A11 will provide a direct motorway connection between the port of Zeebrugge and the European motorway network. The A11 is both the first transport project and the first greenfield PPP in Europe to benefit from the EC-EIB Project Bond Initiative.

Financing will include equity injected into the project by private partner Via Brugge and public partner Via-Invest, in combination with bond financing of an amount of €578 million. The financing is fully committed by Allianz Global Investors and the European Investment Bank (€145 million) at the beginning of the project, but in an innovative development for a project bond, funds will only be drawn down over time during the construction of the project. The bonds will be publicly listed, and benefit from the innovative Project Bond Credit Enhancement support mechanism, that was created by the European Investment Bank and the European Commission in order to promote the realisation of infrastructure projects.

The European Investment Bank is also providing a subordinated credit facility of €115 million, which helped improve the credit rating of the bonds by three notches to A3 according to rating agency Moody's.

The EIB project bond credit enhancement instrument was used through a letter of credit representing 20% of senior debt.

The project will be developed on a design, build, finance and maintenance (DBFM) basis for a period of 30 years. It consists of the realization of a 12 km stretch of the trunk road link A11 between the regional roads N49.

The consortium Via Brugge was advised by Grontmij (technical), Stibbe and Clifford Chance (legal), Deloitte (financial) and Vanbreda (insurance).

Bond placement was arranged by a consortium consisting out of Deutsche Bank, Belfius and BayLaBa, with Freshfields as their legal advisor.

Legal counsel to the European Investment Bank for the PCBE mechanism was White & Case.

In addition the funders were advised by Steer Davies Gleave (technical), Nauta Dutilh (legal) and Marsh (insurance).

Via-Invest and the Flemish goverment were advised by Technum / Arcadis (technical), Allen & Overy (legal) and Rebel (financial).

Construction works will start immediately. The construction period is planned to be 3,5 years with a planned availability of the road in September 2017.

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