Paule Biensan is a partner of counsel in the Project Development and Finance group of the Paris office. She has led during 20 years the Energy, Infrastructure, Project and Asset Finance Group of the Paris office. She is a multi-award-winning lawyer with a number of industry firsts to her name. Her principal areas of focus include project finance, acquisition finance, general corporate transactions and mergers and acquisitions.
Paule has significant knowledge in advising financial institutions, sponsors and government authorities on public projects and utilities such as major infrastructure projects (railways, roads and bridges), cable networks, telecommunications, waste treatment facilities, energy projects, chemicals, hospitals and prisons, generally based on concession agreements, PPP, BOT or similar agreements.
As a result of her international experience, Paule has developed a thorough understanding of the delicate and complex structuring required for Anglo-Saxon-type international financings (including those from multilateral sources) for projects based in civil law countries. She also advises on the corporate aspects of such transactions, including in relation to matters such as shareholders' agreements and equity contributions. Paule has guided Bank Advisory Committees on sovereign debt restructurings of certain West African countries.
To give a sense of the diversity of her work, notable recent successes include an innovative finance deal for multi-user agreement in Guinea, the first project bond in France (listed in France) enhanced by EIB, and the first public project bond refinancing in France in the motorway sector. Paule has also been involved in projects relating to municipal transportation schemes, pipelines, aluminum and paper in France; power projects and export oil financings in Côte d’Ivoire; GSM licenses in Tunisia and Cameroon; mining facilities in Venezuela; aluminum projects in South Africa; privatization, telecommunication and power projects in Morocco; as well as projects in Romania and Tunisia.
Tri-K Gold Mine, Guinea
Representation of the lenders, Chaabi International Bank Offshore (Banque Centrale Populaire Group), Société Générale and Attijariwafa Bank Europe on the US$122 million financing of a gold mine located in the Republic of Guinea, to be operated by Société des Mines de Mandiana (Managem Group).
Atinkou Power, Ivory Coast
Representation of Atinkou and its shareholder Eranove in connection with the structuring and financing for a total amount of €404 million (including €303 million in external financing) of a cogeneration power project located close to Jacqueville, approximately 40 kilometers west of Abidjan. This operation was named "Editor's Choice Award" by IJ Global magazine.
Ngoulmendjim and Dibwangui Hydropower Projects, Gabon
Representation of pan-African leading industrial group Eranove, along with the Fonds Gabonais d'Investissements Stratégiques (FGIS) – the Gabon strategic investment fund, in connection with the project financing, design, construction and operation of a 73 MW hydropower project located in Ngoulmendjim and a 15 MW hydropower project located in Dibwangui in the Gabonese Republic. These operations were named "Best Water Deal in Africa" by EMEA Finance.
Dakar-Diamniadio PPP Toll Road, Senegal
Representation of the project company formed by Eiffage in all aspects of the 32-kilometer Dakar-Diamniadio PPP toll road Project in Senegal, including its initial offer to the Republic of Senegal and the financing of two phases of the Project. Further representation in the renegotiation of the concession agreement for the financing, building and operation of the first section then a new section of the toll road, which represents an investment of €121 million to be fund by the Senegalese government, AFD and Eiffage. These additional 16.5 km will connect the first section to the new Blaise Diagne international airport. This transaction was named "Best Infrastructure Deal" in Africa by EMEA Finance.
Kénié hydropower, Mali
Representation of Eranove (as shareholder) and the SPV (Kénié Energie Renouvelable) on a Public-Private Partnership agreement and a PPA in order to develop a €110 million 42MW hydroelectric dam in Kénié, Mali. This transaction was named "Best Water Deal of the Year in EMEA" by EMEAFinance.
Sahofika Power, Madagascar
Representation of Eiffage, Themis Energy and Eranove as sponsors in connection with the development, construction and financing of a 200MW hydro project in Madagascar.
CI Energies, Ivory Coast
Representation of Côte d'Ivoire Energies (CI Energies) in connection with the refinancing of the short term debt of the electricity sector in Côte d'Ivoire.
Agadir Desalination project, Morocco
Representation of BMCE Bank, as lender to the Société d'Eau Dessalée d'Agadir and Aman El Baraka Company on the financing, design, construction and operation of a mutualized desalination plant to provide drinking and irrigation water to the Souss Massa region in Morocco. Established under the 54-05 Moroccan law related to delegated contract management, it is the biggest mutualized desalination project in the world for the production of drinking and irrigation water. Paule also advised BMCE Bank in 2014 on the financing of the initial project.
High-speed railways between Tours and Bordeaux
Representation of the lenders (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 of the €8 billion, 50-year concession to build and operate France's Sud Europe-Atlantique (LGV SEA) high-speed railway project. The project, that connect Tours and Bordeaux through a 303 km high-speed rail link, is the largest project finance deal to be awarded in the French railway sector and the first contract concluded with a French state guarantee provided under the new French recovery plan. This deal was awarded "Europe Rail Deal of the Year" by Project Finance International, "European Rail Deal of the Year" by Project Finance, and "Transport Deal of the Year" by Infrastructure Journal. Further, representation of BNP, KFW, BBVA and SMBC as lenders in connection with the negotiation of an additional line of credit (LLGT) secured by the European Bank of Investment for the financing of France's Sud Europe-Atlantique (LGV SEA) high-speed railway line commissioned in July 2017.
A65 Moroway, France
Representation of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria S.A., Banco de Sabadell S.A., Banco Santander S.A., Bankia, BNP Paribas, CaixaBank S.A., Commbank Europe Limited, Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, KfW IPEX-Bank GmbH, La Banque Postale and Société Générale, in the refinancing of the A65 motorway in France.
Paule spoke at the Agefi conference on the investment instruments for the infrastructure projects, in November 2016
Paule spoke at the EY & AFD conference on the Financial instruments for the Financing of Renewable Energy Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, in June 2014
Paule discussed transforming infrastructure and power at the ECA/DFI Africa French exporter roundtables, in June 2014
Paule spoke at an AFC legal department seminar about aspects of project finance transactions in civil law jurisdictions (notably on EPCs and Ohada Security Documents), in March 2014
Paule spoke at the BUILD Africa Forum organized by Africa50 on " Success Stories in Infrastructure in Africa" held in Brazzaville in February 2014
Band 1, Projects & Energy: International: Finance – France
Chambers Global 2021
Band 2, Project Finance – Africa-wide
Chambers Global 2021
Band 2, Corporate/Commercial: OHADA Specialists – Africa-wide
Chambers Global 2021
Named to IFLR1000's "Women Leaders in EMEA" for 2021
International Financial Law Review 2021
Named "Project Finance Lawyer of the Year" for 2020
Jeune Afrique Magazine 2020
Named among the 50 most influential lawyers in Francophone Africa in 2020
Jeune Afrique Magazine 2020