Global law firm White & Case LLP advised the lenders to a consortium selected as the preferred concessionaire for a €7.8 billion, 50-year concession to build and operate France's Sud Europe-Atlantique (LGV SEA) high-speed railway line. The project, which will connect Tours and Bordeaux through a 303-kilometre high-speed rail link, marks the largest project finance deal to be awarded in the French railway sector and represents one of Europe's most important infrastructure investments in the past 20 years.
In its role as counsel to the consortium's lenders, White & Case represented nine commercial banks, the European Investment Bank and the Caisse des dépôts et consignations 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 on June 16.
"This project, which is fundamental to the European railway network, is unprecedented in many respects and represents a number of firsts," said Paule Biensan and Jacques Bouillon, White & Case partners. "Not only is it the first railway concession concluded by Réseau Ferré de France, but it is also the first contract concluded with a State guarantee provided under the new French recovery scheme."
The winning consortium was led by VINCI Concessions and included VINCI SA; CDC Infrastructure, a wholly owned subsidiary of Caisse des dépôts et consignations; SOJAS, a dedicated investment entity; and AXA Private Equity.
Leading the White & Case team were partners Paule Biensan and Jacques Bouillon, assisted by partner Victoria Westcott, counsel Henri-Joseph Trémolet de Villers and associates François-Guilhem Vaissier, Jean-François Le Corre, Marianna Sédéfian, Amadou Soumano, Tom Longmuir, Elisa Carneiro de Moraes and Jonathan Djenaoussine.
Allen & Overy (Romaric Lazerges and Geoffrey Levesque) advised the consortium.
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