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Allens, Blakes, advise on Wiggins deal

Allens, Blakes, advise on Wiggins deal

Law firms Allens Arthur Robinson and Blake Dawson have found work as a financing package for the first stage of the Wiggins Island coal export terminal in Queensland has been completed.

ALLENS Arthur Robinson and Blake Dawson have found work as a financing package for the first stage of the Wiggins Island coal export terminal in Queensland has been completed. 

Blake Dawson has advised Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal on the deal, which Allens is advising the senior syndicate and mezzanine financiers on the deal. 

Blake Dawson represented Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal Pty Limited, a joint venture company established by fifteen coal producers located in the Bowen, Surat and Maryborough coal basins in Queensland. 

The Blake Dawson team was led by David Mason and supported by Jamie Ng and Damian Salsbury at a partner level, advised on all aspects of the project financing of stage 1 of the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal and related infrastructure at Wiggins Island.

The export terminal, WICET, is owned by a consortium of coal exporters advised by ANZ Corporate Advisory.

The first stage of the development, located in Gladstone and due for completion in 2014, is expected to facilitate the export of about 27 million tonnes of coal per annum. When all stages are fully commissioned, the terminal will have a capacity of more than 80 million tonnes per annum, effectively doubling the coal export capacity at the Port of Gladstone.

The terminal will be operated by the Queensland Government-owned Gladstone Ports Corporation. The financing for WICET Stage 1 is Australia's largest greenfields project financing for 2011. 

The deal includes US$2.4 billion for construction and $600 million, made up of Australian and US dollars, for performance guarantees, working capital and contingencies.

The Gladstone Long Term Securities (GiLTS) financing package is comprised of A$450 million and US$50 million. In an Australian first, the senior debt facilities also include a tranche of debt guaranteed by the Australian Export Finance and Insurance Corporation.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia is acting as the senior agent for a syndicate of 20 domestic and international banks, which are providing senior debt on the deal, and as the mezzanine agent for a consortium of 13 mezzanine financiers, who have subscribed for GiLTS.

Equity was provided in the form of preference shares, for which the coal exporters, who will own and develop the terminal, subscribed at financial close.

Partner Phillip Cornwell, who led the Allens team acting for the senior financiers, said the huge and complex deal required a large, well-coordinated team, including the firm's due diligence specialists.

"Major projects of this sort require an enormous team effort," Cornwell said.

"We were able to build on our experience with other export infrastructure financings, notably NCIG's Newcastle Coal Export terminal," he said.

Allens partner Cornwell worked with partner Rob Watt in Sydney, partner Nicholas Adkins, senior associate Carmen Luk, Sydney lawyers Mary-Frances Murphy, Kevin Lu, Scott Day and Amy Cashman, Brisbane lawyer Sarah Petrie and numerous other specialists who worked on due diligence review.

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