The UK rolling stock leasing company (ROSCO) sector appears to be providing evidence of growing appetite for infrastructure-related issues in the bond market.
In the May issue of Infrastructure Investor (see related item, top right), Simon Gray, founding partner of London-based fund manager Arcus Infrastructure Partners, confirmed that Arcus was “making progress” with the refinancing of Angel Trains – which is expected to tap the bond market.
“We acquired Angel Trains, the largest ROSCO, in August 2008 and the first debt maturity is in mid-2011,” said Gray. “We began looking at opportunities to refinance that tranche at the end of last year and we are making very good progress.”
Gray added: “Lenders are very positive about ROSCOs and Angel is in a particularly strong position to raise finance. However, the bank market is not a provider of long-term finance today, despite coming back compared to this time last year. Liquidity is available but tenors remain shorter than we would like for a company with long-term assets like Angel. There has been a drift to the bond market for longer-dated liabilities and Angel is in the good position of being investment grade-rated, strong, stable and long term. So we are in the right place at the right time.”
Fellow UK-based ROSCO Porterbrook, which was acquired by a group led by Paris-based fund manager Antin Infrastructure Partners for £2 billion (€2.3 billion; $3.0 billion) in October 2008, was recently reported to be coming to the bond market to take out part of a £1.5 billion acquisition financing associated with the deal. According to reports, this deal was originally expected to be sized at £350 million, but may now reach as much as £700 million.
Meanwhile, the planned £2 billion sale of a third ROSCO, HSBC Rail, includes a staple debt package comprising a £1.2 billion loan and a £500 million 15- to 20-year bond. In mid-April, it was reported that a consortium comprising 3i, Morgan Stanley and Star Capital had emerged as the frontrunner in the auction for HSBC Rail.