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Construction-phase refinancing marks an Australian first

Construction-phase refinancing marks an Australian first


Two global firms have negotiated the refinancing of Darling Harbour’s new convention and exhibition facilities.

Firms: Herbert Smith Freehills (Lend Lease and HOSTPLUS); Norton Rose Fulbright (financiers)

Deal: Lend Lease and HOSTPLUS have repriced the Sydney International Convention Exhibition and Entertainment Precinct (SICEEP) public-private partnership (PPP).

Value: $1.4 billion

Area: Banking & Finance

Key players: The Herbert Smith Freehills team was led by finance partner Erin Wakelin, supported by senior associate Adam Parkin.

Deal significance: According to a release by HSF, the repricing and amendment of financing facilities was completed this week and marks the first time an Australian PPP has been successfully refinanced while still in the construction phase.

The repricing allowed equity investors Lend Lease and HOSTPLUS to take advantage of improved PPP lending market conditions and was initiated and led by Capella Capital.

Darling Harbour Live – a consortium comprising Capella Capital, AEG Ogden, HOSTPLUS, Lend Lease and Spotless – achieved financial close for the SICEEP in December 2013.

“It is great to see this iconic construction project attracting continued lending interest and able to achieve improved terms,” Ms Wakelin said.

“The deal demonstrates to the market that changed lending conditions offer an opportunity for PPP investors and state governments to achieve better commercial outcomes, even when the project is still under construction.”

The renewed Darling Harbour precinct is scheduled to be opened to the public by December 2016.

It will feature a total exhibition capacity of 35,000 square metres, a 5,000-square metre external event deck and a red carpet theatre with a capacity for 8,000 people.

According to HSF, the deal highlights the opportunities for sponsors and state governments to take advantage of improved liquidity, pricing and terms in the lending market.

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