Advising the joint lead arrangers — ABN AMRO, ANZ Investment Bank, and National Australia Bank — on a deal that encompassed the construction of five regional power stations and an LNG plant in the West Kimberley, proved to be a complex undertaking for Freehills.
The deal was signed on 28 September, with a total transaction value (value of the senior debt) of $202 million. It involved two borrowers, two loan facilities (one for construction and the other to provide for expansions to the power stations), two EPC contracts (one for the power plants and one for the LNG plant), six sites with numerous additional easements and a Power Purchase Agreement with Western Power, which included various conditions precedent. Lead partner on the deal, Brendan Quinn, said part of the transaction’s complexity lay in the requirements for the project set out by Western Power as part of the awarding of the Power Purchase Agreement. Western Power required developer Energy Developments Limited (EDL) to be contractually obliged from day one to expand the power plants over the next 20 years, within limits, as demand for power in the region required.
“Our role was to advise the banks, so our main challenges were working with EDL to provide a sensible solution that allowed them to develop the project and continue to develop it over the 20-year period,” he said.
Quinn said the hardest thing for the banks “to get their heads around” was the ongoing construction period, which on this project could exceed 10 years.
Native title issues also provided a challenge, not just in terms of the power station sites, but also on easements for pipelines “through reasonably populated areas” from the LNG plant to its storage site on the opposite side of Broome.
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