December 30, 2014
Latham & Watkins was recognized by Project Finance International (PFI) magazine as the recipient of its 2014 “Global Law Firm of the Year” award for excellence in project finance. According to PFI, “Latham & Watkins has been one of the stalwarts of the global project finance market over the decades.” PFI added that Latham “has had a stellar year with a whole range of deals across the globe and across sectors. . . . The practice has been involved in projects vital to the global economy, energy production and environmental protection — ranging from the world’s largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) and mining projects to innovative renewable energy projects.”
In addition to this award, Latham earned recognition for its role in five landmark transactions that received “Deal of the Year” awards, including:
- Asia-Pacific Deal of the Year — Roy Hill: Latham represented Roy Hill and the project sponsors, Hancock Prospecting, Marubeni, POSCO and CSC, in connection with the US$7.4 billion financing for the construction of the Roy Hill iron ore project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The deal was the largest ever mine financing and “has a set a new precedent for export credit agency (ECA) and bank financing, with the five ECAs and 19 banks agreeing to provide funding for a resources project without a completion guarantee from the sponsors,” said PFI.
- Asia-Pacific Power Deal of the Year — Sarulla: Latham represented the lenders in the a US$1.6 billion geothermal power plant in Sarulla. The 20-year debt facility combines a JBIC direct loan, commercial bank loans that benefit from an extended political risk guarantee provided by JBIC (US$329m), an ADB direct loan funded from its ordinary capital resources (US$250m), and two concessional climate funds that ADB administers. According to PFI, “the signing of the US$1.17bn debt is an important milestone in the geothermal power sector in Indonesia, which has some 29,000MW of geothermal resources. This is the first Indonesian greenfield geothermal project achieving financial close since Wayang Windu in 1997, providing a template for future financings.”
- Americas Petrochemical Deal of the Year — Sasol Louisiana: Latham represented the project company in a Louisiana petrochemical plant expansion financing that raised US$4 billion in bank debt. PFI noted “the deal is unique as it leaves open a funding risk for the scheme if the credit markets turn,” adding it “will benefit from existing cashflows, the economics of an expansion as opposed to a greenfield plant and cheap local ethane prices.”
- Americas Transportation Deal of the Year — I-4 Ultimate Project: Latham represented the lenders in a reconstruction road deal project in Florida being led by I-4 Mobility Partners OpCo, a consortium led by Skanska Infrastructure Development and John Laing Investments. According to PFI, “the US$2.3bn I-4 Ultimate Project in the urban Orlando area was the largest availability payment transaction ever undertaken in the US and was also notable as the largest greenfield P3 in the US to-date.”
- North American Power Deal of the Year — Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) St Charles Energy Center: Latham represented the sponsor in a financing for a US$775 million gas-fired merchant power plant in Maryland. The deal presented a number of challenges, according to PFI, including “the use of a newer, more efficient fully-funded letter of credit facility, as well as a sophisticated approach to natural gas purchasing and hedging and complicated electricity off-take arrangements.” St Charles also reflected “the increasingly complex nature of the equity side of project finance” and “the introduction of mezzanine debt that had to be harmonised with the provision of the other financing and tax equity documents, especially those relating to defaults and change of control.”