MELBOURNE-BASED boutique law firm Wilmoth Field Warne has advised Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) on all local law aspects of its finance of the US$40 ($57.2) million Hyatt Hotel project in Kabul, Afghanistan.
OPIC is a US Government finance organisation working in developing countries.
The law firm said the project was being undertaken by TAYL, a consortium comprising four companies — construction groups Tepe, Limak and Yuksel of Turkey, and ARC (a US organisation run by ex-pat Afghans).
The “ground breaking” for the Hyatt Hotel project took place on 17 April and was attended by the head of TAYL, Ali Kantor, as well as the US Ambassador in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad; the chairman of Hyatt International, Tom Pritzker; and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
In February 2003, president and CEO of OPIC Dr Peter Watson and the Government of Afghanistan signed a memorandum of understanding which anticipated OPIC providing financing and political risk insurance totalling up to US$35 ($50.6) million for the project.
“This project, the latest instance of OPIC support for frontline states in the international war against terrorism, will help Afghanistan begin its reconstruction by directly meeting a market need and improving the climate for foreign direct investment,” Dr Watson said following the signing.
Wilmoth Field Warne said this was the first of what many expect to be numerous finance projects involving OPIC in Afghanistan’s private sector. Immediately prior to the ground breaking for the Hyatt Hotel, OPIC and the Afghan Government signed a bi-lateral agreement which paves the way for OPIC to provide financing and insurance for investments in Afghanistan.
The law firm’s team was lead by Zaid Mohseni, the head of its corporate department, who has close ties to Afghanistan.
According to Moh- seni, “The transaction has provided a great opportunity for Wilmoth Field Warne to be involved in larger transactions which are traditionally the domain of the larger law firms, as well as interact with the large US firms and their corporate teams.”