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Law firm frenzy on $2.3bn desalination plant
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Law firm frenzy on $2.3bn desalination plant

Allens Arthur Robinson, Gilbert + Tobin, Baker & McKenzie and King & Wood Mallesons have together worked on the $2.3 billion Sydney desalination plant refinancing.

Allens Arthur Robinson, Gilbert + Tobin, Baker & McKenzie and King & Wood Mallesons have together worked on the $2.3 billion Sydney desalination plant refinancing.

Located in Kurnell, the desalination plant is the largest desalination plant operating in Australia and is fully powered by renewable energy.

The deal, signed on 11 May, involves a long-term lease of the desalination plant, pipeline and site, and a 50-year water supply agreement with Sydney Water Corporation.

King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) advised Sydney Water and the NSW Government on the successful refinancing of the Sydney desalination plant. The firm worked with other lead advisers Goldman Sachs and KPMG.

The KWM team was led by Mark Upfold, infrastructure sector leader.

“King & Wood Mallesons was delighted to assist Sydney Water and the State on this critical transaction which will free up funds for other infrastructure projects,” Upfold said.

He said the transaction was structured to protect the long-term water security of Sydney, including the future expansion of the plant if required.

“The objectives of the transaction were implemented in the context of the State’s broader policies of encouraging competition in the water sector and protecting water quality and public health and safety in a regulated environment.

“We enjoyed the challenge of designing a unique set of stewardship documents that were the first of their kind for a long term infrastructure investment in New South Wales, “ he said.

Allens advised a consortium including the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board, Hastings Managed Infrastructure Funds Utilities Trust of Australia and The Infrastructure Fund (together, the Consortium) on the binding offer to finance the plant.

Partner Robert Clarke, who co-led the Allens team on the transaction with finance partner Simon Lynch, said the Consortium was focused on ensuring that the NSW Government and Sydney Water's key objective of long- term water security would be satisfied.

Gilbert + Tobin, led by partners John Schembri and Alexander Danne, advised the winning consortium’s 11 financiers including all four major domestic banks, an export credit agency and a range of international banks.

G+T advised the banks from a project finance and acquisition perspective. They were supported by lawyers Katherine Best, Adela Smith, Daniel Yim, Catherine Zahra, Abigail Haseltine and Angela McDonald.

Schembri led the overall transaction and principally advised the banks on the finance and security documentation. Alexander Danne supported John and principally advised the Banks on the project and state specific documentation. 

Baker & McKenzie advised the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board on the deal, led by Michael Kunstler.

 

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