Paule Biensan is the head of the Energy, Infrastructure, Project and Asset Finance, Privatizations group of the Paris office.
Her principal areas of expertise include project finance, acquisition finance, general corporate and mergers and acquisitions transactions.
Paule represents borrowers as well as senior and junior lenders in a variety of both domestic and international financings (project financings – generally based on concession agreements, PPP, BOT or similar agreements; structured and leverage financings and infrastructure projects).
She has significant knowledge in advising financial institutions, sponsors and government authorities on public projects and utilities such as major infrastructure projects (railways, roads and bridges), cable networks, telecommunications, waste treatment facilities, energy projects, chemicals, hospitals and prisons.
As a result of her experience, Paule has developed a thorough understanding of the delicate and complex structuring required for Anglo-Saxon-type international financings (including those from multilateral sources) for projects based in civil law countries. She also advises on the corporate aspects of such transactions, including in relation to matters such as shareholders’ agreements and equity contributions.
Paule has guided Bank Advisory Committees on sovereign debt restructurings of certain West African countries. She also regularly advises French subsidiaries of international groups and French and international companies on mergers and acquisitions, divestitures and restructurings in France.
Some of Paule's recent representative transactions include:
- Advising the group of lenders, including AfDB, FMO, BOAD, BIDC, BMCE and AFC, for the financing, design, construction and operation of the Riviera Marcory toll bridge in Abidjan under a concession scheme. A Bouygues-led consortium was the successful bidder for the 30-year concession in 1999, but the financing never closed due to political events. At that time, White & Case LLP represented other lenders, including IFC and Proparco. The project finance structure was amended when the project resumed in 2008;
- Advising Emerging Capital Partners and the Ivorian company CIPREL in connection with the financing of the expansion of a power plant to be carried out by CIPREL, in Ivory Coast. The project is carried out in two phases. Phase A of the project, of an amount of 50 billion FCFA, has been financed by BIAO Cote d'Ivoire, BOA Cote d'Ivoire, SIB Cote d'Ivoire, Orabank Benin and BGFI Cameroun to design and build an additional gas turbine engine with an aggregate capacity of 111MW/h. Phase B of the Project shall be financed by international lenders, including the International Finance Company, in an amount equal to €200 million to design and build a steam turbine with an aggregate capacity of 111 MW/h. Phase A reached closing in May 2012;
- Representation of Aluminium Pechiney in a mine project with CVG Bauxilum in Venezuela (US$ 200 million), including the preparation and drafting of the security documents with the sponsor, the borrower and the various lenders to the project. The project included a buyer credit guaranteed by Coface.
- Advising the lenders (Deutsche Bank AG, Crédit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank, Unicredit SpA, Banca IMI SpA and Mediobanca SpA, as well as the State bank, Caisse des dépôts et consignations) on the financing of the Ecotaxe project, an innovative €1.9 billion public-private partnership (PPP) to design and operate the assets and services necessary for the control and collection of taxes on heavy goods vehicles in France. This transaction was awarded "PPP Deal of the Year 2011" by Project Finance International;
- Advising (as lead adviser) the lenders for the financing of the project company formed by the winning bidder consortium led by Vinci Concessions, in connection with the construction, development and maintenance of the high speed railways between Tours and Bordeaux in France; this financing is one of the more complex infrastructure financing to date, involving State and state-owned entities guarantees, commercial bank debt; EIB financing (including a LGTT tranche) and the French CDC long term financing. This transaction was awarded "Rail Deal of the Year 2011" by Project Finance International;
- Advising the project company formed by Eiffage in its offer to the Republic of Senegal for the concession, financing, building and operation of a toll motorway in Dakar, Senegal and then for the multi-source financing of the project, including: three development bank financings (IFC, BAD and BOAD) and a commercial bank financing (CBAO). This transaction was named "African Transport Deal of the Year 2010" by Project Finance Magazine;
- Advising the lenders in connection with the financing of a toll bridge to be built in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, by a subsidiary of Bouygues, pursuant to a concession contract. The amount of the financing is in excess of €205 million;
- Advised the lenders for the financing of a project company formed by a consortium composed of Colas Sud-Ouest, SCREG Sud-Ouest, SPIE Batignolles, NGE, EGIS Project, HSBC European Motorway Investments 1 and DIF Infrastructure II BV in connection with the financing, construction and operation of the A63 motorway between Salles and Saint-Geours-de-Maremne in France;
- Advised the Société Nationale Industrielle et Minière (SNIM) of Mauritania in relation to the US$710 million multi-sourced financing (including Islamic finance as well as export credit agency and a development bank financing) for the expansion of the Guelb II mine and the construction of a new ore carrier port in Nouadhibou, Mauritania. This transaction was named "Deal of the year 2009" by Trade Finance Magazine;
- Advised Natixis, Santander, ING, Fortis and Helaba, as lenders, in connection with the design, construction, financing and operation of the A65 motorway in France by Eiffage;
- Advised the lenders for the financing of the construction of the Prado Sud tunnel in Marseille, France, whose concession for the financing, construction and operation has been granted to a consortium composed of Vinci and Eiffage;
- Advised a joint venture between Orascom Constructions and Sonatrach for the financing of a fertiliser plant in Algeria. The financing, in excess of €1.1 billion, was procured by a group of Algerian banks. This deal has been named "African Petrochemicals Deal of the Year 2008" by Project Finance Magazine;
- Advised the banks, led by The Royal Bank of Scotland Plc, on the €1.1 billion financing of the high speed railway between France (Perpignan) and Spain (Figueras). The international concession was granted by the French and Spanish governments to a consortium composed of Eiffage and ACS/Dragados. This transaction was named "Deal of the Year 2005" by Jane's Transport and "Railway Finance and Infrastructure Deal of the Year 2005" by Project Finance International; and
- Advised the lenders for the financing, under a PPP scheme of the first four prisons PPP contract in France awarded to Eiffage.
Paule has also been involved in projects relating to municipal transportation schemes, pipelines, aluminum and paper in France; power projects and export oil financings in Ivory Coast; GSM licenses in Tunisia and Cameroon; mining facilities in Venezuela; aluminum projects in South Africa; privatization, telecommunication and power projects in Morocco; as well as projects in Romania and Tunisia.
Bars and Courts
Post master's (DEA) in Business Law, Université de Droit de Paris II, 1987
Master’s (Maîtrise) in Business Law, Université de Droit de Paris X, 1985
Various articles relating to financing techniques (guaranties, project finance, security documents in the Ohada System), including contributions to the 2010, 2011 and 2012 editions of the Global Renewable Energy Guide (available here