Loan for highway launched

LONDON – The 1.473-billion-euro ($2.28 billion) project financing backing the construction of the Central Greece Highway (E65) has been launched to syndication, banking sources said yesterday. The loan, which carries a part-guarantee from the Greek state for 929 million euros, backs the construction of new roads and the development of existing Greek highways. The credit is being arranged by BBVA, Banco Espirito Santo, CaixaBI, Fortis, La Caixa, Piraeus, EFG Eurobank and Santander, sources said. The 30-year concession includes the 174-kilometer-long Central Greece E65 highway, which connects the highway in Lamia to the Egnatia Odos highway; and the highway between Skarfia and Raches, which is under construction. The concession was awarded to a group of sponsors including Greece’s GEK and Spain’s ACS and Cintra. The financing is split into a 266-million-euro term loan A with a 26-year maturity which pays a margin of 105-115 basis points (bps) over EURIBOR; and a 310-million-euro bridge loan with a 5.5-year maturity, which pays a margin of 65 bps over EURIBOR. The deal also includes a 929-million-euro loan with a 29.5-year maturity that is guaranteed by the Greek state and pays a margin of 85 bps over EURIBOR. A VAT-equivalent facility of 31 million euros is not being syndicated, which brings the total financing package to 1.504 billion euros, a banker said. The loan is being syndicated to European banks and commitments of 100 million euros, 60 million euros or 35 million euros are expected toward the end of June.