Global law firm White & Case LLP today announced that its Energy, Infrastructure, Project & Asset Finance Practice in France has acted on more than €11 billion in project financings in the past 12 months.
"White & Case is a market leader in project finance, including infrastructure, both public-private partnerships and concessions, as well as mining and energy," said Paule Biensan, White & Case partner. "The strength of our Paris team lies in its ability to serve clients in both domestic and international markets, especially emerging markets, where we are seeing significant growth."
Nationally, White & Case has advised on three major project finance transactions in France's transports infrastructure sector in 2011.
In the first instance, White & Case advised eight international banks, including the European Investment Bank (EIB), on the €940 million financing of the A63 motorway concession contract, a 40-year PPP that was awarded to the winning consortium ATLANDES.
White & Case also advised a group of lenders – Deutsche Bank AG, Crédit Agricole CIB, Unicredit SpA, Banca IMI SpA and Mediobanca SpA, as well as the state bank, the Caisse des dépôts et consignations (CDC) – on the financing of a €1.9 billion PPP (Eco tax project) to build and operate an electronic truck tolling system for French roads.
The third transaction acted on by White & Case was the €7.8 billion financing of France's new Sud Europe-Atlantique (LGV SEA) high-speed railway, one of Europe’s most important infrastructure investments in the past 20 years. White & Case represented nine commercial banks, the EIB and the CDC on the common financial documentation, project contracts and all legal aspects of the project – from the preparation of the consortium’s bids to financial closing.
"This project was unprecedented in the amount of financing involved, the legal and financial innovations generated by the planning and the complexity regarding the number of parties involved: Réseau Ferré de France as the licensor; the shareholders, including Vinci, Axa Infrastructure and the EIB; the head office of the saving funds – Caisse des dépôts et consignations nine commercial banks, and the state and RFF as the guarantors of one part of the loans," said Jacques Bouillon, White & Case partner.
Outside of France, White & Case has been active notably in Francophone Africa and Central and Eastern Europe. For example, White & Case advised Eiffage in its bid to the Republic of Senegal for the concession of a toll motorway in Dakar and then for the multi-source financing of the project, including development and commercial bank financing. The transaction was named "African Transport Deal of the Year 2010" by Project Finance Magazine. In addition, the Firm advised the lenders for the financing of a toll bridge to be built in Abidjan by a subsidiary of Bouygues, as well as the lenders of Strabag AG in connection with the E18 motorway project in Finland.
White & Case regularly acts on mining projects, notably in the Republic of Guinea and in Mauritania, and on energy projects in countries that include the Ivory Coast and Morocco.
The Paris Energy, Infrastructure, Project & Asset Finance team now has four partners and 13 associates. The newest appointment within the group is Louise Mor, an English- and Paris-qualified lawyer who was named partner at the beginning of the year and who concentrates on international asset finance and leasing, primarily in the aviation industry.
White & Case's leading position in project finance is highlighted by the 2011 rankings of respected legal directories, including The Legal 500, which ranks White & Case Paris as a tier-one firm, and Chambers, which ranks the French partners as leading individuals.
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