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 European Investment Bank (EIB) on the first "project bond" to be issued in France with EIB credit enhancement, and the first in Europe to be issued for digital infrastructure. It is also the first project bond to be governed by French law and to be listed on the Paris stock exchange. The project bond refinances 11 French telecoms concessions that are owned by Axione Infrastructure, which will continue and extend its implementation of fast and superfast digital infrastructure in sparsely populated areas. The refinancing was executed via a project bond issue with a debt enhancement, using the Project Bond Credit Enhancement structure launched by the European Commission and EIB in 2012;
- Advising BOAD and BIDC, as co-arrangers, in connection with the financing, construction and operation of a combined cycle thermal power plant project (372 MW) in Songon, Ivory Coast;
- Advising CIPREL, an Ivorian independent electricity producer, controlled by Eranove (formerly Finagestion S.A.), itself a subsidiary of a pan-African investment fund, Emerging Capital Partners, in relation to the financing of the second phase of the expansion of its power unit. The second phase amounts to €200 million financed by IFC (World Bank group), the African Development Bank and Proparco (Agence Française de Développement group). We also advised the company on the first phase of the project;
- Advising BMCE Bank as the sole lender supporting a consortium composed of Abengoa Water and InfraMaroc on the financing of a desalination plant in Agadir, Morocco. The large scale PPP is the first delegated management contract of this importance in Morocco under the law n° 54-05, and also the first for the production of drinking water which will contribute to the major development taking place in Agadir, particularly in the tourism, agrifood and industrial sectors;
- Advising Société Générale Corporate & Investment Banking and HSBC on a comprehensive package for the financing of the construction by STX France, and the acquisition by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (second largest cruise company in the world), of the Oasis 3 Cruise Vessel for an amount of EUR 1.1 billion. This cruise ship with a capacity of 5 400 passengers and 2 100 crew members, will be the largest cruise vessel ever built in the world, featuring the most innovative technology and amenities in the cruise industry. The financing was made of (i) a EUR 892 M COFACE covered Export Credit, with SG CIB, HSBC and BNP Paribas acting as Mandated Lead Arrangers and (ii) a EUR 735 M Pre-Financing Facility, with SG CIB and HSBC acting as Mandated Lead Arrangers.
- Advising the project company formed by Eiffage in connection with the concession, financing, building and operation of a € 121 million new section of the Dakar toll road to be fund by the Senegalese government, AFD, Eiffage and its lenders. These additional 16,5 km will connect the first section of the Dakar-Diamniadio Toll Road to the new Blaise Diagne international airport. We also advised the project company on the first section of the Dakar-Diamniadio Toll Road project which transaction was awarded "Africa Road Deal of the Year" by Project Finance 2010;
- Advising Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations as lenders (acting through Direction des fonds d’épargne and Section générale) for the renovation and rehabilitation of 16 buildings of Bordeaux University as part of "Operation Campus" launched by the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research in order to refurbish selected academic campuses;
- Advising the lenders of a Consortium led by Bouygues Travaux Publics (including AfDB, PAIDF, BOAD, EBID, AFC, BMCE Bank and FMO) for the financing, design, construction and operation of a toll bridge in Abidjan under a concession scheme with a debt and equity coverage from MIGA. This transaction was awarded "African Transport Deal of the Year" by Project Finance 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 a group of six commercial banks providing finance to the consortium composed of Atlantia (Autostrade per l'Italia) and six of its partners in the PPP project for the design, construction, financing and operation of a new tolling system, "Ecotaxe", for heavy load vehicles using the French national road network. This transaction was awarded "PPP Deal of the Year" by Project Finance International 2011 and "Technology Deal of the Year" by Project Finance 2011;
- 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 Sud Europe-Atlantique (LGV SEA) high-speed railway in France; this financing is one of the more complex infrastructure financing to date, involving State and state-owned entities guarantees, commercial bank debt; European Investment Bank financing (including a LGTT tranche) and the French Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations long term financing. This transaction was awarded "High-Speed Rail Deal of the Year" by Project Finance 2011, "Rail Deal of the Year" by Project Finance International 2011 and "Deal of the Year – Transport 2012" by Infrastructure Journal;
- 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" by Trade Finance Magazine 2009;
- 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" by Project Finance 2008;
- 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" by Jane's Transport 2005 and "Railway Finance and Infrastructure Deal of the Year" by Project Finance International 2005; 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 and 2014 editions of the Global Renewable Energy Guide (available here