Paule Biensan is the head of 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.
Her list of clients is wide-ranging and eclectic. It includes borrowers as well as senior and junior lenders in a variety of both domestic and international financings. These are often complex and innovative transactions, generally based on concession agreements, PPP, BOT or similar agreements, structured and leverage financings and infrastructure projects.
Clients value her knowledge of 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.
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.
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 guided Bank Advisory Committees on sovereign debt restructurings of certain West African countries. She also regularly advises French subsidiaries of international groups and French and international companies on mergers and acquisitions, divestitures and restructurings in France. She has also been involved in projects relating to municipal transportation schemes, pipelines, aluminium and paper in France; power projects and export oil financings in Côte d'Ivoire; GSM licenses in Tunisia and Cameroon; mining facilities in Venezuela; aluminium projects in South Africa; privatization, telecommunication and power projects in Morocco; as well as projects in Romania and Tunisia.
A65 motorway, 2018
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.
A355 motorway, 2018
Representation of the lenders of Arcos, a subsidiary of Vinci Concessions in respect of the financing, construction and operation of the A355 motorway concession project in France.
Agadir Desalination project, 2018
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.
Ivorian buses, 2018
Representation of Československá obchodní banka a.s. in connection with provision of Lloyd's and EGAP covered buyer credit facility to the Government of Côte d'Ivoire acting through the Ministry of Economics and Finance of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire to finance the supply of 500 buses produced by IVECO Czech Republic.
High-speed railways between Tours and Bordeaux, 2011 - 2017
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 selected as "2011 Europe Rail Deal of the Year" by Project Finance International, as "2011 European Rail Deal of the Year" by Project Finance, and as "2011 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.
28 motorway, 2016
Representation of Deutsche Bank and HSBC as joint arrangers and bookrunners on the refinancing of Autoroute de Liaison Seine-Sarthe (Alis) which operates the A28 motorway between the city of Alençon and the Rouen area in France. This is the first public project bond refinancing in France in the motorway sector.
Harmony of the Seas, 2013-2016
Representation of Société Générale and BTMU for the delivery of the EUR and USD ECA backed-financing of the purchase by Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited of the world's biggest-ever luxury cruise ship called "Harmony of the Seas" with a capacity of 8,500 passengers and crew. The immense floating town, which was built by STX France, cost close to €1billion and was delivered on 13 May 2016. Paule also led the team that advised Société Générale, HSBC France, BNP Paribas and Natixis on the original EUR financing of this purchase. The EUR facility closed in July 2013 and included financing provided to STX France for purposes of building the vessel. Subsequently a portion of the EUR financing was cancelled and the facility was amended to accommodate a COFACE-supported USD facility. The USD facility closed in April 2014.
Axione telecoms, 2014
Representation of the European Investment Bank (EIB) on the project bond which refinances 11 French telecoms concessions that are owned by Axione Infrastructures. This is the first project bond with EIB credit enhancement product issued in France, the first in Europe issued for digital infrastructure and the first project bond listed on Euronext Paris. This transaction was awarded 2014 European Telecoms Deal of the Year by IJ Global.
Ciprel power plant, 2012-2016
Paule advised CIPREL, an Ivorian independent electricity producer, controlled by Eranove, on the financing of both sub-phases of the fourth phase expansion of its power unit turbine, Tranche A (a 111 MW gaz to power unit) and then Tranche B of such expansion (a 111 MW combined cycle expansion amounting to €200 million). This transaction was named Best Sustainability Deal of the Year in Africa by EMEAFinance 2015.
Dakar PPP toll road, 2010-2015
Representation of the project company formed by Eiffage in connection with the concession, financing, building and operation of the 32-kilometer Dakar-Diamniadio public-private partnership toll road project in Senegal and further on the concession, financing, building and operation of a new section of the such toll road to connect the first section to the new Blaise Diagne international airport.
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.
Best Lawyers in France 2016, Project Finance and Development
Leading Lawyer (Band 1), Chambers Global 2016, Chambers Europe 2014
Projects: International Projects – France
Leading Lawyer (Band 1), Chambers Europe 2016
PFI/PPP – France
Leading Lawyer (Band 1), Chambers Global 2016
Projects and Energy– Africa-wide