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Port of Newcastle project progresses

Port of Newcastle project progresses

Allens Arthur Robinson has advised the senior banks and mezzanine lenders in the $3.2 billion combined refinancing of stage one and financing of stage two of the third coal export terminal at…

Allens Arthur Robinson has advised the senior banks and mezzanine lenders in the $3.2 billion combined refinancing of stage one and financing of stage two of the third coal export terminal at the Port of Newcastle.

Allens advised three of the major Australian banks and 13 international banks involved in the refinancing, which included a $US1.9 billion ($2.07 billion) seven-year debt facilities package, a $470 million 12-year junior debt note series and a $420 million preference equity tranche.

The work by the Allens team, led by Partners Phillip Cornwell and Rob Watt, builds on the firm's involvement in stage one of the coal export terminal, which was officially opened in May 2010.

Stage two of the project will see the construction of a new rail unloading facility and rail sidings, an additional stacker/reclaimer and stockyards, additional conveyors and sample stations, and a shiploader.

The project is expected to generate strong economic benefits for the Hunter region, as well as the rest of New South Wales, providing a vital infrastructure link that will enable greater Australian coal exports and mine expansions.

Cornwell said of the deal: "This was a challenging transaction that involved a number of complex inter-creditor issues. It marks another stage in the improvement of financial markets following the global financial crisis and demonstrates the ability of the private sector to develop and finance critical resources infrastructure in an efficient and timely way.

"The involvement of a diverse range of investors (both international and domestic), including super funds, to provide substantial mezzanine funding for a project involving construction risk was an innovative and significant aspect of the financing structure."

Blake Dawson advised Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group, while Freehills advised BHP Billiton Finance.

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