Paule Biensan | White & Case LLP International Law Firm, Global Law Practice
Paule Biensan
Paule Biensan

Paule Biensan

Partner, Paris

T +33 1 55 04 15 05

T +33 1 55 04 15 15

E pbiensan@whitecase.com

“Paule Biensan is a market leader revered for her expertise in project finance. She advises on the financing of some of the most complex projects in France and francophone Africa. ‘Having her as a contact was very reassuring,’ notes one client; ‘she is responsive, she understands the subjects immediately and people listen to her.’”

Chambers Global 2016

Overview

Paule Biensan is the head of the Energy, Infrastructure, Project and Asset Finance Group of the Paris office. She is a multi-award-winning lawyer with a number of industry firsts to her name. Her principal areas of focus include project finance, acquisition finance, general corporate transactions and mergers and acquisitions.

Her list of clients is wide-ranging and eclectic. It includes borrowers as well as senior and junior lenders in a variety of both domestic and international financings. These are often complex and innovative transactions, generally based on concession agreements, PPP, BOT or similar agreements, structured and leverage financings and infrastructure projects.

Clients value her knowledge of 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 international 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.

To give a sense of the diversity of her work, notable recent successes include an innovative finance deal for multi-user agreement in Guinea, the first project bond in France (listed in France) enhanced by EIB, and the first public project bond refinancing in France in the motorway sector.

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. She has also been involved in projects relating to municipal transportation schemes, pipelines, aluminium and paper in France; power projects and export oil financings in Côte d'Ivoire; GSM licenses in Tunisia and Cameroon; mining facilities in Venezuela; aluminium projects in South Africa; privatization, telecommunication and power projects in Morocco; as well as projects in Romania and Tunisia.

Bars and Courts

  • Paris Bar

Education

  • DEA, Post-master's (DEA) in Business Law, Université de Droit de Paris II
  • Master's (Maîtrise) in Business Law, Université de Droit de Paris X

Languages

  • French
  • English

Experience

First Public Project Bond Refinancing in France in the Motorway Sector, 2016

Paule led the team that advised Deutsche Bank and HSBC as joint arrangers and bookrunners on the refinancing of Autoroute de Liaison Seine-Sarthe (Alis), the first public project bond refinancing in France in the motorway sector, which operates a motorway between the city of Alençon and the Rouen area in France.

Harmony of the Seas, 2013 and 2016

Paule represented Société Générale and BTMU for the delivery of the EUR and USD ECA backed-financing of the purchase by Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited of the world's biggest-ever luxury cruise ship called "Harmony of the Seas" with a capacity of 8,500 passengers and crew. The immense floating town which was built by STX France cost close to €1billion and was delivered on 13 May 2016. Paule also led the team that advised Société Générale, HSBC France, BNP Paribas and Natixis on the original EUR financing of this purchase. The EUR facility closed in July 2013 and included financing provided to STX France for purposes of building the vessel. Subsequently a portion of the EUR financing was cancelled and the facility was amended to accommodate a COFACE-supported USD facility. The USD facility closed in April 2014.

Loan to Orange Côte d’Ivoire, 2016

Paule represented Société Générale de Banques en Côte d’Ivoire (SGBCI) and Société Générale, as arrangers, and a group of lenders (composed of SGBCI, Société Générale group, Société Ivoirienne de Banque (SIB), Banque Atlantique de Côte d’Ivoire (BACI), Banque Internationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie de Côte d’Ivoire (BICICI), BNP Paribas Fortis, Chaabi International Bank Offshore (CIB Offshore) and Standard Chartered Bank) in connection with the negotiation of a equivalent FCFA190 billion (i.e. €290million) loan agreement granted to Orange Côte d’Ivoire to refinance its external growth transactions in West Africa, notably the acquisition of the following telecoms companies: Cellcom Telecommunication Inc. in Liberia as well as Airtel Mobile Commerce Burkina Faso S.A. and Airtel Burkina Faso S.A. both located in Burkina Faso.

Secured financings to Industries Chimiques du Sénégal, 2016

Paule advised La Banque Internationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie du Sénégal, CBAO Groupe Attijariwafa Bank, Crédit du Sénégal and Banque Islamique du Sénégal as lenders in relation with the restructuring of several secured financings to Industries Chimiques du Sénégal (ICS), one of the largest producers of phosphate fertilizers in sub-Saharan Africa. We also restructured the entire security package for the benefit of all the lenders: commercial Senegalese banks, Indians banks providing Capex facility and DFIs.

Multi-User Rail Line Operation Agreement in Guinea, 2015

Paule advised the Agence Nationale d’Aménagement des Infrastructures Minières (ANAIM), Guinea Alumina Corporation (GAC), the Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée (CBG) and the Compagnie de Bauxite et d’Alumine de Dian-Dian (COBAD) in connection with the first-of-its-kind multi-user operation agreement for a mining railway between the port at Kamsar and bauxite mines at Sangaredi in the Republic of Guinea.

European Investment Bank's project bond issuance for the refinancing of Axione Telecoms, 2014

Paule led the international team which represented the European Investment Bank (EIB) on the project bond which refinanced 11 French telecoms concessions owned by Axione Infrastructures in July 2014. This matter was awarded European Telecoms Deal of the Year by IJ Global in January 2015. This was the first project bond with EIB credit enhancement to be issued in France, and the first in Europe to be issued for digital infrastructure. It was also the first project bond listed on Euronext Paris.

The financing of the expansion of a power plant in Ivory Coast, 2012 and 2014

Paule advised CIPREL, an Ivorian independent electricity producer, controlled by Eranove, on the financing of both sub-phases of the fourth phase expansion of its power unit turbine, Tranche A (a 111 MW gaz to power unit) and then Tranche B of such expansion (a 111 MW combined cycle expansion amounting to €200 million). This transaction was named Best Sustainability Deal of the Year in Africa by EMEAFinance 2015.

BMCE Bank's innovative financing for Moroccan desalination plant, 2014

Paule led the international team that advised BMCE Bank as the sole lender supporting a consortium composed of Abengoa Water and InfraMaroc on the financing of a desalination plant in the Moroccan city Agadir. Financed under an innovative public-private partnership (PPP) scheme, the large scale project 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 Greater Agadir, particularly in the tourism, agrifood and industrial sectors.

The financing of a toll motorway in Senegal, 2010 and 2014

Paule advised 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.

€8 billion high-speed railways between Tours and Bordeaux, 2011

In a ground-breaking project that represented a number of firsts, Paule provided joint leadership to the team that advised the lenders, led by Vinci Concessions, on the construction, development and maintenance of a high-speed railway between Tours and Bordeaux in France. The financing, in excess of €8 billion, was one of the most complex infrastructure financing deals 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" by Project Finance International 2011, "High-Speed Rail Deal of the Year" by Project Finance 2011 and "Deal of the Year – Transport" by Infrastructure Journal 2012.

Speaking Engagements

Paule spoke at the Agefi conference on the investment instruments for the infrastructure projects, in November 2016.

Paule spoke at the EY & AFD conference on the Financial instruments for the Financing of Renewable Energy Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, in June 2014.

Paule discussed transforming infrastructure and power at the ECA/DFI Africa French exporter roundtables, in June 2014.

Paule spoke at an AFC legal department seminar about aspects of project finance transactions in civil law jurisdictions (notably on EPCs and Ohada Security Documents), in March 2014.

Paule spoke at the BUILD Africa Forum organized by Africa50 on " Success Stories in Infrastructure in Africa" held in Brazzaville in February 2014.

Awards & Recognition

Best Lawyers in France 2016, Project Finance and Development

Leading Lawyer (Band 1), Chambers Global 2016, Chambers Europe 2014

Projects: International Projects – France

Leading Lawyer (Band 1), Chambers Europe 2016

PFI/PPP – France

Leading Lawyer (Band 1), Chambers Global 2016

Projects and Energy– Africa-wide