Financial close for €200m Belgian road project

Netherlands-headquartered infrastructure investor DIF is providing equity for the Noord Zuid Kempen availability-based project in Belgium, which features a 2.5-year construction phase and 30-year operational period. Bank finance has been committed by KBC, ING and SMBC.

DIF Infrastructure, the Schipol, Netherlands-based infrastructure fund manager, has announced financial close for the €200 million Noord Zuid Kempen availability-based road project in Belgium.

The project is a public-private partnership (PPP) that was tendered through a DBM+F (design, build, maintain and finance) scheme. It will see the upgrade of the road connection between the towns of Geel and Turnhout (between the E313 and E34 motorways) in Flanders, Belgium. The project comprises a 2.5-year construction period and 30-year operational phase.

DIF holds 50 percent plus one share in the project, with the remainder held by Via Invest, a partnership between the Flemish Region and the ParticipatieMaatschappij Vlaanderen, an organisation owned by the Flemish government which supports economic investment initiatives in Flanders.

Bank funding for the project has been provided by Belgium’s KBC, the Netherlands’ ING and Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation. Full details of the funding were not immediately available.

Paul Nash, DIF’s head of infrastructure, said the transaction offered his firm “the opportunity to invest in a low risk, high quality asset offering attractive and stable returns to our investors during the 30 year operational phase”. He added that DIF is bidding on a “significant number” of road projects in Belgium including the R4, A11 and A24, which are being tendered by the same authority.

DIF has backed Noord Zuid Kempen through its DIF Infrastructure II fund, which closed on €571 million in September 2010, beating a target of €500 million. The firm has a portfolio of around €700 million of PPP/PFI and renewable energy assets.