Global law firm White & Case LLP advised the lenders on the financing of an innovative €1.9 billion public-private partnership (PPP) to build and operate an electronic truck tolling system for French roads. The French Eco-tax project, as it is called, will use satellite tracking to charge trucks and other heavy vehicles using non-toll national roads. The project is expected to be fully operational nationally by 2013, following a three-month trial period in France's Alsace region.
The PPP agreement was signed on October 20, the same day the project financing closed, between the French government and the Ecomouv' Group, a consortium of companies led by Italy's Autostrade that was the project's winning bidder. It is the first PPP contract of its kind in that it will generate a direct return on investment for the French State. The revenue generated by the Eco-tax will be used, among other things, to finance transport infrastructure projects in France.
White & Case represented the project's six lenders comprising commercial banks Deutsche Bank AG, Crédit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank, Unicredit SpA, Banca IMI SpA and Mediobanca SpA, as well as the state bank, the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations. The financing is composed of 20% shareholders' equity and 80% external debt in the form of a VAT bridge loan facility, project risk loan facilities and two state-backed facilities funded through a Dailly tranche.
Leading the White & Case team were partners Jacques Bouillon and Victoria Westcott, assisted by partner Paule Biensan and associates François-Guilhem Vaissier, Amadou Soumano, Jonathan Djenaoussine and Marie Joachim.
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