White & Case Advises Republic of Gabon on inaugural debt-for-nature conversion

Press Release
2 min read

Global law firm White & Case LLP has advised the Republic of Gabon on its pioneering debt-for-nature conversion, which is the first transaction of its kind in Africa.

The conversion comprises Gabon's inaugural US$500 million 15-year Blue Loan and the concurrent tender offer of a portion of its outstanding US$700 million 6.950% Amortizing Notes due 2025, US$1 billion 6.625% Amortising Notes due February 2031 and US$800 million 7.000% Amortising Notes due November 2031 (together the Notes). The Blue Loan was funded by an offer of US$500 million Amortizing Notes due 2038 issued by Gabon Blue Bond Master Trust Series 2 (the Blue Bonds).

The conversion has allowed Gabon to refinance over US$442 million of Gabon's Notes and generate an expected US$125 million in new funding for ocean conservation projects in Gabon aimed at the creation and implementation of a marine spatial plan and management for 30 percent of its ocean. The terms of the Blue Loan include certain conservation milestones including increasing the ocean area under protection, improving management of protected areas, supporting Gabon's sustainable blue economy and strengthening and enforcing regulations for its fishing industry.

The US International Development Finance Corporation's political risk insurance provided credit enhancement for this transaction, helping to mobilise capital from institutional investors and catalyse additional investment in Gabon's marine conservation efforts. The Nature Conservancy acted as the project manager and technical advisor. Lazard Frères acted as financial adviser to the Republic of Gabon. Bank of America acted as sole initial purchaser and bookrunner for the Blue Bonds and as dealer manager for the tender offer of the Notes.

White & Case has been advising the Republic of Gabon on all of its Notes issuances since 2013.

The White & Case team in Paris which advised on the transaction was led by partners Olga Fedosova and Max Turner and included associate Dariya Babyak.

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