Global law firm White & Case LLP advised a group of lenders, including African Development Bank (AfDB), FMO, West African Development Bank, EBID (ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development), BMCE Bank of Foreign Trade, the Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund (PAIDF) and the African Finance Corporation (AFC), for the financing, design, construction and operation of a toll bridge in Abidjan, which is located in the Ivory Coast. The financing will result in a toll bridge that is a strategic asset, linking the boroughs of Riviera and Marcory over the Ebrié laguna. It will be the third bridge connecting the city of Abidjan.
A Bouygues-led consortium was the successful bidder in 1999 of the 30-year concession contract for the Ivory Coast's iconic project. Because of the political events at the time, the project suffered a hiatus of several years.
The project finance structure was amended when the project resumed in 2008 and again in 2010 to include the participation of PAIDF, a South African-based investment fund, and the AFC, a new financial institution organized by several countries in the region, and to benefit from insurance coverage by the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). The AfDB took the lead on the structuring of the financing and was lead arranger for the senior debt, while AFC was lead arranger for the subordinated debt. MIGA provided coverage to private shareholders and some of the lenders.
The successful financing required the negotiation of an amendment to the initial concession agreement, and also the renegotiation of key contracts, including the construction contract.
The closing ceremony, which took place at White & Case's Paris office, emphasized the importance of such African landmark projects. Charles Koffi Diby and Patrick Achi, respectively Minister of Economy and Finance and Minister of Economic Infrastructure for the Ivory Coast, Martin Bouygues and Olivier Bouygues, the highest representatives of the concessionaires’ shareholders, lenders and MIGA were all present.
The White & Case team comprised partners Paule Biensan, Jacques Bouillon and Victoria Westcott, as well as associates Jean-François Le Corre, François-Guilhem Vaissier, Amadou Soumano, Marianna Sédéfian, Elisa Carneiro de Moraes, Jonathan Djenaoussine, Marie Joachim and Bana Daff.
White & Case's Paris office has experience financing infrastructure projects in Africa and France. Previously, the team advised Eiffage on the concession contract for a motorway toll in Dakar. They also advised the lenders for three major project finance transactions in France, including the A63 motorway concession contract, the implementation of an electronic truck tolling system for French roads (Eco-tax project) and the new high-speed railway Tours-Bordeaux, one of the most important European infrastructure investments in the past 20 years for more than €7.8 billion in financing.
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