PGGM, Aberdeen-backed road refinances €900m

French toll road operator Autoroute de Liaison Seine-Sarthe has redeemed a wrapped bond early through the issue of securities maturing in 2046.

Autoroute de Liaison Seine-Sarthe (Alis), a French toll road company whose single asset is the A28 highway, has raised €900 million of debt to repay bondholders early and extend the duration of its financing structure.

The transaction, which the operator describes as a market first, will see Alis redeem and refinance a wrapped bond early through the issue of a non-wrapped, non-recourse security. It will also involve the partial use of an amortising rather than bullet structure.

The new package includes a €857.5 million bond, at a fixed rate of 2.485 percent, amortising in 2046. The balance is accounted for by a €42.5 million, French CPI-linked bond maturing in 2032.

The freshly issued securities will replace the company’s previous debt arrangement, which comprised three tranches of wrapped French CPI-linked bonds maturing in 2017, 2027 and 2032, as well as two tranches of mezzanine debt.

“Given the economic performance of Alis since its commissioning in October 2005 and the present favourable market conditions, Alis and its shareholders, with the support of its advisors, decided to redeem its current debt and issue new bonds. The new debt profile better suits the duration of the concession and its cashflow generation,” Alis said in a statement.

The company is owned by a consortium of European institutional investors and industry players, comprising PGGM (for 33.17 percent), Mirova Core Infrastructure Fund (26 percent), Aberdeen Infrastructure Partners (13.6 percent), Sanef (11.67 percent), SAPN (8 percent) and Egis (8 percent).

The A28, which links Rouen to Alençon, achieved financial close in 2002. It was commissioned in 2005, and its concession runs until the end of 2067.