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First European project bond for broadband

Axione Infrastructures has issued the first project bond involving digital infra in France and Europe. The project benefits from the EIB project bond initiative.

Axione Infrastructures has conducted the first issue in France and Europe of project bonds in support of digital infrastructure. Specifically, the financing is connected to France’s super-fast broadband plan involving the rollout of fibre optics in sparsely populated areas.

Shareholders in Axione Infrastructures comprise: FIDEPPP, which is managed by asset management company MIROVA, a subsidiary of Natixis Asset Management; Caisse de Depots; and Bouygues Construction subsidiaries Bouygues Energies & Services and Axione.

The issuance will provide Axione Infrastructures with €189.1 million in bond finance. It was supported by a 20 percent senior debt enhancement from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and is the third project bond to be financed under the EIB project bond initiative, which is designed to stimulate capital markets financing for large-scale infrastructure projects.

“Thanks to the EIB credit enhancement, the bond received a Baa2 rating from Moody’s,” said Anne-Christine Champion, global head of infrastructure and projects at Natixis, in a statement. “This structure allows Axione Infrastructures to gain attractive long-term amortizing financing by institutional investors.”

The Axione grouping had been working on the project in partnership with the EIB and European Commission since the summer of last year.

Axione Infrastructures was advised by Natixis, which acted as lead manager and sole book-runner on the bond issue. CACIB (Credit Agricole) and Santander Global Banking & Markets acted as co-arrangers.