Meridiam, CDC back €900m Calais port project

The French fund manager and institution have signed a 50-year concession to finance the transformation of Boulogne-sur-Mer and Calais into a single port.

Paris-based Meridiam Infrastructure and France’s Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC) are leading a consortium that will fund a revamp of the country’s largest passenger port.

The fund manager and the institution have signed a 50-year concession that will see them oversee the transformation of terminals located in Boulogne-sur-Mer and Calais, in Northern France, into a single port.

Set to start this year and end in 2020, the project has an estimated cost of €900 million. It involves investments worth €650 million, comprising €117 million of equity and €550 million of debt raised via a bond issue backed by Allianz Global Investors and third-party institutions.

The scheme is the first French project to be supported by the Juncker Plan, which takes its name from the European Commission President and aims to generate €315 billion of infrastructure investment over the coming three years. It also benefits from the European Investment Bank’s Project Bond Credit Enhancement Initiative.

Other parties involved in the project include the Côte d’Opale Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Port of Dunkirk, and a joint venture formed by developers Bouygues, Spie Batignolles and Jan de Nul.

The deal provides for creation of a three-kilometre-long seawall and a 90-hectare-dock, the construction of 44 hectares of new quay, the building of berths for the latest-generation mega-ferries and the development of road-rail-sea intermodal infrastructure.

Its ambition is to double the capacity of the current port, already Europe’s largest for road traffic and connection to the UK, France’s fourth-largest for the transport of goods, and Europe’s second-largest for passenger traffic, according to a statement by Meridiam. Half of employee jobs in Calais, which according to a 2010 census had a population of about 126,000, stem from its port’s activities.

The project is Meridiam’s sixth investment in France, after the VNF Dams, the Marseille L2 Bypass, Nîmes-Montpellier High Speed Railway Line Bypass, the South Europe Atlantic High Speed Railway Line and the Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines Velodrome. The firm is currently investing its European Infrastructure Fund II, which reached a final close on €935 million in April 2012.