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15 April 2024

ECA Deals of the Year: The winners

Manufacturing & equipment, Renewables, Telecoms and Communications
Managing Editor
This year's winners of the TXF Export Finance Deals of the Year beat a lot of worthy contenders, with ESG credentials the running theme across those winning deals.

Size matters - but innovation, strong marketing and a willingness to take on risk are the key traits that this year's winners of the TXF Export Finance Deals of the Year all share.

From the first large-scale offshore wind scheme in Poland and a hydro power project in Angola to a hydrogen-powered steel manufacturing project in Europe and a green hydrogen project in Saudi, big-ticket project finance in the renewables sector took centre stage for most the winning deals. Rail and transport, and gigafactory and lithium mining were also landmark deals in 2023.

There were several viable financing templates to emerge for both serial and debut ECA-backed borrowers from around the world. But the most prevalent theme across last year’s award-winning deals was their overall ESG credentials, from the ‘E’, in particular, to the ‘S’ – the trend was clear. And given the stronger focus and impetus on energy transition from ECAs, banks and policymakers, these winning deals come as no surprise.

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So, without further adieu, here are this year’s deal of the year winners…

Overall Export Finance Deal of the Year

Description: The €4,397 million greenfield non-recourse project financing backing Poland's first offshore wind farm, with a total capacity of 1,140 MW, marks the first offshore wind farm to reach financial close in Poland. The transaction is sponsored by Orlen Group (51%) and Northland Power (49%). It comprises 3,572 million of term loan facilities and 825 million of ancillary facilities. The facilities will be drawn by Baltic Power, an SPV which owns the asset.  

Americas Export Finance Deal of the Year

Description: Funds backing development of the Sal de Oro project – a lithium extraction facility from a salt lake in Salta Province, Argentina – for Posco Holdings via its Argentine subsidiary. From the lake, the company will produce 25,000 metric tonnes of lithium hydroxide per year - enough to power about 600,000 EVs - by 2024. The project will benefit Korean companies by providing them with a stable supply of lithium, a critical raw material for EV batteries, amid global supply chain issues which are putting companies in increasingly fierce competition for key minerals. Highly rich in natural resources, Argentina boasts the world’s third-largest lithium reserves and is the world’s fourth-largest producer of lithium, a strategic mineral.

Middle East Export Finance Deal of the Year

Description: ACWA Power signed financing agreements for a total investment of $8.5 billion for the NEOM Green Hydrogen Project (NGHP) in 2023. The investment is funded by a combination of long-term debt and equity, and was agreed with NEOM Green Hydrogen Company (NGHC), a joint venture between ACWA Power, Air Products and NEOM Company, with ACWA Power holding a 33.3% equity stake.

The total financing consists of $5.852 billion senior debt and $475 million of mezzanine debt facilities, both arranged on a non-recourse project finance basis. The National Development Fund (NDF) on behalf of National Infrastructure Fund (NIF) will contribute $1.5 billion while the.Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF) will provide a $1.25 billion riyal denominated loan. The balance is from a consortium of financiers, structured as a combination of long term uncovered tranches and a Euler Hermes-covered tranche.


Asia Export Finance Deal of the Year

Description: Northland Power's Hai Long offshore wind project in Taiwan has secured TWD118 billion ($3.64 billion) of long-term non-recourse financing to back the scheme. The 20-year project financing will be provided by over 15 international and local lenders with support from multiple export credit agencies from six different countries.

Energy Export Finance Deal of the Year

Description: A SACE-covered green loan in favour of Raizen Fuels Finance S.A. structured under the SACE Push Strategy Program, financing general corporate purposes including eligible green projects in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors


Europe Export Finance Deal of the Year

Description: Project ONE is the largest and most substantial investment in the European chemical sector in the past 20 years. When this project Is completed, Antwerp will have the most energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly ethylene installation in all of Europe (with less than half of the CO2 emissions than the 10% best-performing steam crackers in Europe).


New Industry Export Finance Deal of the Year

Description: The Bpifrance/Sinosure-covered loan will finance the construction and operation of an advanced manufacturing plant in Douai, France. The scheme concerns the implementation in Europe of an advanced manufacturing technology for the production of advanced li-ion battery cells. The latter is considered a key enabler for the development of the European EV industry. 


Rail Transport Deal of the Year

Description: A UKEF-covered loan for the Republic of Turkey, acting through the Ministry of Treasury and Finance, backing the construction of the Yerkoy-Kayseri HSR Project. The loan will be used for the payments to the exporter under the export contract.

The Yerkoy–Kayseri high standard railway is a high standard railway line. It is being built between Yerkoy YHT Station in Yerkoy district of Yozgat and Kayseri YHT Station in Kocasinan district of Kayseri and will be integrated with Ankara-Sivas high speed railway when completed.

Central Asia Export Finance Deal of the Year

Description: A Bpifrance-covered loan for the financing of freight and passenger locomotives procured by Alstom. Financing structure encompasses a green loan facility for the passenger locomotives, as Alstom trains operated in Kazakhstan have 89% less gCO2/passenger km compared to cars, according to Alstom’s operational data.


Manufacturing Export Finance Deal of the Year

Description: This ECA-backed project financing will enable the refinancing of the $1.6 billion debt package raised in July 2020 for the first 16 GWh phase of cell manufacturing capacity at Northvolt - the first fully circular battery cell manufacturing site in Europe.

The financing covers the construction of an expansion of the existing facility to reach up to 60 GWh of cathode active material and cell manufacturing together with the company’s first large scale battery recycling facility, Revolt Ett. The 10+-year door-to-door debt package is provided by a group of 23 commercial banks, five ECAs, the Swedish National Debt Office (Riksgälden) as well as the European Commission. The financing has been issued under the company’s Green Financing Framework and is one of the largest non-recourse green loans ever raised globally. Financial close is expected in H1 2024.

Blended Export Finance Deal of the Year

Description: A 2020 start-up raising €4.15 billion of non-recourse loans for a project partially underpinned by offtake contracts that are almost six years shorter than the tenor on the debt – it is the kind of ambition that normally raises sniggers from forensic bank credit committees, even when half the debt comes with cover.

Doing that for a global first – a pathfinder hydrogen-powered steel manufacturing mega project – turns sniggers into howls, and takes communicating the credit risk and mitigants to another level. And reading the willingness of steel buyers to accept long-term take or pay contracts at a 20%-plus premium to traditional steel verges on offtaker-whispering.

H2GS has pulled off all three – the deal speaks for itself.


Africa Export Finance Deal of the Year

Description: A €1.5 billion ($1.67 billion) Euler Hermes-backed facility for Angola’s Caculo Cabaca hydro-electric power (HEP) project. The official borrower is the Ministry of Finance (MoF) of Angola. The 2,172MW project, located in the province of Cuanza Norte in the Middle Kwanza Basin, is key to the Angolan government’s plan to diversify its energy mix as the African country looks to become less dependent on oil for energy generation and to support general electrification of the country. 

The Euler Hermes element will fund the export of electro-mechanical equipment, turbines and services from Voith Hydro GmbH & Co. KG, Germany, which is acting as the nominated supplier to a Chinese EPC. The Caculo Cabaca HEP project has an estimated overall cost of $4.5 billion. The project is one that has been under various stages of planning and construction for many years, so this development is a big step forward to safeguard its completion. The ECA facility has a tenor of up to 25 years.

Industry Choice Awards 

ECA Borrower of the Year Award

Reliance Industries

Deal one (Kexim)

Description: KEXIM is covering a loan, as well as a providing direct loan, to finance RIL’s procurement of a Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel.

Deal two (Finnvera)

Description: Reliance Jio Infocomm has closed a $1.6 billion export financing, covered by Finnvera, for the procurement of 5G telecoms equipment from Nokia. The network operator Reliance Jio Infocomm plans to make substantial investments in upgrading the telecommunications infrastructure in India in the coming years, including upgrading the existing mobile network to the latest ultra-fast 5G technology. 

Deal three (EKN):

Description: EKN is covering a loan for Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited, proceeds will be used for financing of the 5G telecom equipment from Ericsson.

Deal four (EDC)

Description: Proceeds will be used to finance part of the procurement of equipment, related software and services from Nokia for setting up of 5G telecommunication network infrastructure pan-India. This would be the largest and fastest roll out of 5G services globally.

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