Paris, September 13, 2004 LAWFUEL – Best for project finance news, legal news, legal research, law firms White & Case’s Paris Project Finance team has been appointed by a consortium of major European banks as legal advisor on the financing of one of Western Europe’s key rail infrastructure projects. The Firm is acting for Royal Bank of Scotland, ING Bank N.V., Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, Banco Espanol de Credito SA and Caja Madrid as lead arrangers on the financing of the high speed rail link to be built between Perpignan in France and Figueras in Spain. The international concession for the delivery of the project was granted by the French and Spanish governments to a consortium consisting of Eiffage and ACS/Dragados.
“The next 15 years are going to see enormous development of Europe’s transport infrastructure and we fully intend to be at the forefront of it. Public private partnerships will be a central element of securing the requisite funding and the financial institutions involved will need legal advisors with project finance expertise, relevant industry experience and the ability to advise on multi-jurisdictional issues,” commented Philip Stopford, co-head of White & Case’s European Energy, Infrastructure, Project and Asset Finance practice. “We’ve looked carefully at these needs and have put in place a team across Europe that is more than capable of addressing them. The latest building block in this process was the appointment of former UK Rail Regulator, Tom Winsor, in London in July 2004.”
The project is one of the key priorities outlined in the European Commission’s Trans-European Transport (TEN) report, which provides a blueprint for the development of the EU’s transport infrastructure between now and 2020 and estimates that €225 billion of funding will be required for the recommended mix of rail, road and waterway development.
Of the recommended projects, €112 billion is required for high priority projects that either need to be started or completed before 2010. The Perpignan-Figueras rail link is one of only five of these projects that is scheduled to be completed before 2010.
Aside from its place in the TEN plan, the project also stands out because it is an international scheme requiring close co-operation between two countries and necessitates expertise in French, Spanish and EU law, in the fields of project finance, concessions, construction and tax and regulatory matters. For the duration of the project White & Case is working with the Spanish law firm Garrigues, who will be advising on the Spanish legal aspects of the financing of the rail link.
The leaders of the White & Case team acting on the deal are Paris partners Paule Biensan and Jacques Bouillon.
“The project is very significant for both the French and Spanish economies, and because it is a cross-border venture, raises some really interesting legal issues,” commented Paris-based partner and team leader Paule Biensan.
The team will also work closely with Tom Winsor, whose vast rail industry experience will be a great asset: as the TEN plan takes shape it is expected that the UK’s experience of private sector involvement in the railways and industry restructuring will be seen as a reference point for the development of the European model.
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White & Case is a leading global law firm with nearly 1,800 lawyers in 38 offices in 25 countries. Global Counsel consistently ranks White & Case among the top global law firms. White & Case has also been named Best US Law Firm in London, Eastern Europe Law Firm of the Year and Eastern Europe Corporate/M&A Firm of the Year by leading legal benchmark publications.
White & Case is an acknowledged world-leading law firm in the field of Energy, Infrastructure, Project and Asset Finance (EIPAF). The Firm’s EIPAF practice has advised on a broad range of high profile instructions and is now acting on some of the largest project financing deals in the market, including the world’s two largest liquefied natural gas project financings: Sakhalin II in Russia and Qatargas II in Qatar. The practice has particularly strong Russian, Middle Eastern and African experience and consists of more than 180 lawyers in the EMEA region.