The Committee on the Future Economy (“CFE”) was convened in January 2016 to develop economic strategies for Singapore for the next decade, building on the work done by the Economic Strategies Committee in 2010. Over 9,000 stakeholders, including trade associations, public agencies, unions, companies, executives, workers, academics, educators and students were consulted in this process, with Clifford Capital counting amongst the participants. On 9 February 2017, the CFE unveiled its recommendations in a report which was released to the public.
A key recommendation made by the CFE was for the Government to catalyse the private sector to provide more growth capital for Singapore companies seeking to expand overseas. Clifford Capital was formed with support from the Government in 2012 to address market gaps in cross-border project financing following the recommendation of the CFE’s predecessor, the Economic Strategies Committee in 2009. The CFE recommended that “Where there are clear gaps in market financing – for example, for project financing in emerging markets – the Government can develop new forms of support for the private financing of Singapore companies, while ensuring that risk decisions remain in the hands of the private sector. We can build on the role of Clifford Capital.”1
The CFE also identified urban solutions and infrastructure as one of six key industry clusters that Singapore should focus on as Singapore companies have existing capabilities and a competitive advantage in this area. To enable Singapore companies to better position themselves for growth in the infrastructure sector, the CFE made several recommendations, including:
- bridging the gap in political and credit risk coverage in emerging markets with infrastructure demand;
- enhancing the project preparation capabilities of Singapore-based companies;
- grooming local infrastructure talent through Government supported manpower programmes; and
- facilitating access for SMEs to non-recourse project financing.
With these measures, Singapore companies would be well placed to tap into the strong demand growth for urban solutions and infrastructure in developing Asia. Clifford Capital is continuing to engage with Government on the development of these initiatives.
Read the full CFE report here.
1 CFE Report Executive Summary, paragraph 36, page 8. See also paragraph 102d on page 31.
Clifford Capital has provided a US$260 million senior secured term loan facility for Global Container Assets 2016 Limited (“GCA 2016”) together with a number of international lenders. The financing is secured by a portfolio of container boxes that are managed by a diversified group of highly experienced container leasing managers including Textainer, Seacube, Dong Fang and Raffles Lease, a subsidiary of Buss Global.
GCA 2016 is jointly owned by Buss Global Holdings Pte Ltd and the Buss Container International 4 partnership, both of which are part of Buss Global, a Singapore-based group specializing in the investment and management of container boxes. Buss Global, through various entities under its umbrella, are amongst the first to be given the Maritime Sector Incentive – Maritime Leasing (MSI-ML) Award by the Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore which encourages entities to use Singapore as their capital and funding base to finance their vessels or sea containers and promote the growth of Singapore as an international maritime centre.
Clifford Capital Pte. Ltd. (“Clifford Capital”), the Singapore-based specialist provider of structured finance solutions, is pleased to announce the signing of the Project Financing Agreements in relation to the development, construction and operation of a 426-megawatt gas-fired power plant in the Sirajganj district of People's Republic of Bangladesh (“Bangladesh”) under a public-private partnership (the “Project”). This build-own-operate project was awarded to Sembcorp’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Sembcorp Utilities, by the Government of Bangladesh in September 2015.
The Project is financed with USD-denominated senior secured term loan facilities, provided by Clifford Capital, alongside with financing partners International Financing Corporation (“IFC”) and Commonwealth Development Corporation (“CDC”). Clifford Capital structured and executed a competitive and innovative combination of fixed and floating rate loans benefitting from credit-enhancements from IFC and a Partial Risk Guarantee from the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (“MIGA”).
The Project is the first green-field project financing concluded between Clifford Capital and Sembcorp. Clifford Capital worked closely with Sembcorp from the early development stages of the Project through the award of the Project by the Government of Bangladesh, culminating in the execution of the financing agreements. The transaction is central to Clifford Capital’s mandate of supporting Singapore-based companies in their overseas investments by providing competitive cross border financing solutions to address structural gaps in the long-dated project financing market, particularly in the emerging markets.
As the longest tenor commercial project financing loan achieved to date in Bangladesh, Clifford Capital’s financing sets a benchmark for commercial lenders’ participation in the country’s ambitious infrastructure development plans.
Clive Kerner, Chief Executive Officer, Clifford Capital said: “Clifford Capital is delighted to support Sembcorp Utilities, a top-tier Singapore-based utilities infrastructure developer, in the company’s ambitious expansion plans overseas, through the provision of financing for Sembcorp’s first power plant development in Bangladesh. The financing demonstrates our commitment to our Singapore clients and to our vision of being the “go-to” financier for Singapore companies growing their business overseas in the infrastructure sector. The execution of the financing agreements is also testament to our ability to structure and execute innovative financings, leveraging on our deep and broad relationships with Development Financing Institutions including IFC, CDC and MIGA.”
Tang Kin Fei, Group President & CEO, Sembcorp said: “With strong support from Clifford Capital and other key lenders and stakeholders through the development and financing stages of the Project, Sembcorp has strengthened our commitment towards supporting Bangladesh’s vision for continued growth and development. The timely execution of financing agreements bears testament to the strong relationship that exists between our institutions.”
Project details and background:
Sembcorp North-West Power Company, a joint venture between Sembcorp Utilities and Bangladesh's state owned North-West Power Generation Company, is developing a 426- megawatt gas-fired power plant in the Sirajganj district of Bangladesh. Expected to be completed in 2018, the plant will supply power to the grid under a 22.5-year power purchase agreement with the Bangladesh Power Development Board.
Sembcorp, through its subsidiary Sembcorp Utilities, will own a 71% stake in the Project while North-West Power Generation Company will own 29%. The Project represents the first foothold for Sembcorp in Bangladesh and establishes a platform for Sembcorp to grow its utilities and other businesses in the country. The Project is the first public-private partnership project with a foreign investor in the power sector in Bangladesh.
The plant, fuelled primarily by natural gas with ability to operate on high speed diesel as backup fuel, will provide clean and reliable power supply to the grid. The Project will contribute to the alleviation of power generation capacity shortages in Bangladesh, thereby underpinning the country’s continuous rapid economic development for the benefit of its people.
Clifford Capital is a cornerstone investor in the US$500 million seven-year Reg S/144A Senior Secured Green bond offering for Greenko Investment II Limited. Greenko will use the proceeds of this bond financing to refinance rupee-denominated project finance loans of a 403MW portfolio of operational and near operational wind and hydro projects. This bond, which has a B+ credit rating from S&P and Fitch, is the first corporate Green bond issuance from India.
Greenko is a leading independent owner and operator of clean energy projects in India. Its portfolio of assets includes 35 operational hydro, wind and biomass projects with a combined installed capacity in excess of 1 GW. GIC Singapore owns 72% of the company alongside the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and the founders of the company.
This transaction demonstrates how Clifford Capital, through its specialized knowledge of the infrastructure sector, is able to provide support to companies seeking to raise funds in the capital markets. In addition to this financing, Clifford Capital’s sister company Pierfront Capital has also provided a US$33 million term loan facility to Greenko Ventures in support of the promoters’ of the company, demonstrating the collective ability of both companies to provide complementary financing solutions to help companies grow their businesses.
Clifford Capital acted as Sole Structuring Mandated Lead Arranger on a Senior Secured Term Loan Facility for PSA Panama International Terminal (“PPIT”) to finance its expansion of the Rodman port located at the Pacific side of the Panama Canal. Construction for this expansion project has commenced with completion expected in 2017/2018.
PPIT, a subsidiary of PSA International, has been operational since 2010 with an annual capacity of 450,000 TEU. PPIT is embarking on an expansion at an estimated cost of US$450 million to increase its capacity to 2 million TEUs annually with state-of-the-art capabilities to serve large container vessels of up to 18,000 TEU. This project is a highly strategic project for PSA International as it expands its footprint in the Americas and seeks to capture the additional opportunities that may come about with the expansion of the Panama Canal.
“This transaction is our second financing in support of PSA International’s overseas projects and it has once again given us the opportunity to demonstrate our value add for Singapore companies as they expand further afield in regions where their primary relationship banks are less active,” said Clive Kerner, CEO of Clifford Capital.
Clifford Capital has participated alongside a number of international banks in a US$894 million Senior Secured Term Loan and Revolving Credit Facility for Teekay Tankers to refinance its fleet of 36 crude and product tankers. This financing enables the company to consolidate its existing bank facilities and extend the maturity following the company's recent acquisition of 12 tankers from Principal Maritime.
Teekay Tankers is the world's largest integrated operator of medium sized crude oil tankers, and is part of the larger Teekay Corporation, which has had significant presence in Singapore for the past 30 years across various business functions.
“Clifford Capital is pleased to have been a part of Teekay Tankers' foray into the Asian financing market. Our financing is aimed at demonstrating support for the company as it plans to expand its business operations in Singapore,” said Clive Kerner, CEO of Clifford Capital.
Clifford Capital is pleased to announce the signing of the financing agreements for the US$185 million Senior Secured Term Loan Facility for Qurayyat Independent Water Project (“Qurayyat IWP”) developed by Hyflux Limited in Oman.
Qurayyat IWP is a reverse osmosis seawater desalination plant located in Qurayyat in the Sultanate of Oman. Under the Water Purchase Agreement, desalinated water from this project will be supplied to Oman Power and Water Procurement Company SAOC for a period of 20 years, from 2017 to 2037. This will add another 200,000 cubic metres per day of drinking water to the country’s water supply.
The Qurayyat IWP is a significant win for Hyflux as the first project undertaken as a lead sponsor in the Middle East. The financing has also provided an opportunity for Clifford Capital to demonstrate its ability to provide differentiated financing solutions that can help Singapore companies win projects in highly competitive bid situations. In this financing, Clifford Capital has structured an innovative and competitive fixed-to-floating rate loan, to be provided on a pari passu basis alongside the more conventional floating rate loans provided by Standard Chartered Bank and Mizuho Bank.
“We are very pleased to have had the opportunity to work with Hyflux on this project. Through our understanding of the Middle East project finance market and the close collaboration with Hyflux from an early stage of the bidding process, we have been able to develop what we believe to be a highly competitive financing package to help Hyflux secure the project,“ said Clive Kerner, CEO of Clifford Capital.
This financing has won the “Best Water Deal” in the 2015 Project Finance Awards by EMEA Finance.
Clifford Capital has together with a number of international lenders provided a US$230 million Senior Secured Term Loan Facility for Teekay Offshore to finance the Gina Krog Floating Storage and Offloading unit (“FSO”). The FSO is converted at Sembmarine’s Sembawang Shipyard in Singapore from an existing shuttle tanker from the Teekay fleet. When completed, the FSO will be deployed in the Gina Krog oil and gas field in the North Sea under a three-year contract with Statoil.
Clifford Capital acted as Mandated Lead Arranger and provided a US$60 million fixed rate senior secured term loan as part of a US$360m financing package to BW Pavilion LNG to fund the acquisition of two Singapore-flagged new-build LNG carriers, BW Pavilion Vanda and BW Pavilion Leeara. BW Pavilion LNG is a joint venture between BW Gas and Pavilion Energy formed with a view to provide LNG shipping capabilities to support the supply of LNG to regional gas demand centres in Asia.
BW Group is a leading Singapore-based global maritime group with a fleet of over 140 vessels ranging from oil tankers, LNG and LPG carriers, chemical tankers and floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) units. Pavilion Energy is a Temasek Portfolio Company with a vision to be a global LNG player in Asia. Its wholly-owned subsidiary, Pavilion Gas manages gas operations in Singapore and is also involved in the distribution and trading of LNG in the region.
“We are pleased to have supported two key clients in this transaction both of which have substantial presence in Singapore. Through our financing we hope to contribute to Pavilion Energy’s vision of establishing Singapore as an LNG trading hub,” said Clive Kerner, CEO of Clifford Capital.
This transaction has been awarded the “2015 Project Financing Deal of the Year – East” by Marine Money, a leading ship finance trade publication, for a number of notable features, including a sizable 44% balloon at maturity and a structured cash flow waterfall that accommodated a 6-9 month gap between two separate charters.
Clifford Capital acted as Mandated Lead Arranger on a US$100mn Dual-Currency Senior Secured Term Loan Facility for Seafox 5 to finance a service and accommodation liftboat constructed at Keppel Fels shipyard in Singapore.
Seafox 5 is a 75/25 joint venture between Keppel Offshore & Marine and Seafox. Utilising a Keppel FELS proprietary design, Seafox 5 is capable of offshore wind turbine installations and can also support a wide range of related activities such as accommodation, well intervention, maintenance, construction and decommissioning for the offshore oil and gas industry.
Clifford Capital acted as Bookrunning Mandated Lead Arranger on a US$1.45 billion Senior Secured Term Loan Facility to finance the Cidade de Marica floating production storage and offloading vessel ("FPSO") that will be deployed under a 20 year charter agreement with Petróleo Brasileiro S.A (“Petrobras”) in Brazil.
Clifford Capital provided a meaningful commitment based on the value of the supply contracts from a number of Singapore-based companies including Dyna-Mac Holdings Ltd which had supplied the topside modules for the FPSO.
SBM Offshore is an industry leading provider of floating production solutions to the offshore energy industry, with its main focus on the design, supply, installation, operation and the life extension of FPSO vessels. The FPSO is owned by a consortium that includes SBM Offshore, Mitsubishi, Nippon Yusen Kaisha and QGOG Constellation.
Clifford Capital (or the “Issuer”) successfully issued US$300 million 5-Year fixed rate notes (the “Notes”) yesterday. The Notes represent the maiden issuance from the US$1 billion Euro Medium-Term Note (“EMTN”) Programme which was established by the Issuer on 5th February 2013. With an unconditional and irrevocable guarantee from the Government of Singapore for the EMTN programme, the Notes have been assigned the highest rating of AAA by Standard & Poor’s.
Mr Clive Kerner, Chief Executive Officer of Clifford Capital, said “We are pleased to have successfully completed our maiden note issuance which will diversify our funding sources. Also the Notes represent the initial step in establishing a new pricing benchmark for Clifford Capital”. With a maturity date of 5th November 2018 and a fixed interest rate of 1.625% per annum, the Notes are priced at a spread of 53bps above the current 5-Year United States Treasuries. The issuer appointed Standard Chartered Bank, DBS Bank Ltd. and The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited as the Lead Bookrunners of the EMTN Programme. Proceeds of the issuance will be deployed towards general corporate purposes.
Clifford Capital, a specialist finance company set up to assist Singapore-based companies in their overseas ventures, has just concluded its first major transaction in the infrastructure sector with a US$79.5 million investment in the US$450 million bond offering by Mersin International Port (“MIP”).
MIP is a 50:50 joint venture between Singapore’s PSA International, one of the world’s largest global port operators, and Akfen Holding, one of the leading infrastructure investment holding companies in Turkey. MIP is the operator of Mersin Port, the largest port in Turkey in terms of tonnage and also import and export container throughput based on the latest published statistics in 2012. The 7-year senior unsecured bond, which has been provisionally rated Investment Grade by both Moody's (Baa3) and Fitch (BBB-), is aimed at refinancing an existing project finance term loan that had been put in place when PSA International and Akfen Holding first secured the concession of Mersin Port in 2007. This transaction represents the first globally placed infrastructure bond issuance from a Turkish issuer, establishing a new source of financing for infrastructure projects in Turkey. “We are very pleased to have successfully closed the inaugural bond offering of Mersin. Clifford Capital has provided us with firm and consistent support from a very early stage, and their role as one of our anchor investors has given us the confidence to launch the bond offering notwithstanding the volatility in the capital markets,” said Mr Ismail Hakkı Tas, Managing Director of MIP. Clive Kerner, CEO of Clifford Capital said: “We are very happy to have supported MIP in its inaugural bond issuance given its strategic importance to PSA International. PSA is an important client for us and we look forward to playing a meaningful role in the growth of their international port network. This is in line with our objectives and demonstrates our commitment in assisting Singapore companies in their overseas investments. We want to be part of the story to help Singapore companies succeed in overseas markets.”
The investment also marks a key milestone for Clifford Capital since its official launch in November 2012 as its first transaction supporting a Singapore-based sponsor. Clifford Capital has successfully closed two primary transactions to date, with the first being a senior loan financing of a floating, production, storage and offloading vessel in Brazil provided in support of a Singapore-based contractor supplying topside modules to the project. In addition, Clifford Capital is at an advanced stage of finalising the acquisition of a portfolio of existing project finance loans as part of a one-off exercise designed to provide the company with a revenue base and diversification of assets. Clifford Capital has a global remit, focusing on providing a competitive source of financing for projects and assets that feature ownership from or goods and services supplied by Singapore-based companies.
Clifford Capital, a specialist finance company providing products and solutions for the project and structured asset-backed finance markets, officially launched its operations today. Held at Clifford Pier, the opening ceremony witnessed an address from guest of honour, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam. “Clifford Capital was established to address structural gaps in Singapore’s cross-border financing landscape initially identified by the Economic Strategies Committee. Along with commercial banks and multilateral agencies, Singapore now has the necessary eco-system in place to help our local corporates bid for large, long-tenor projects overseas without being constrained by the current volatile economic environment”, said DPM Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
With the recent unpredictability in the financial markets and proposed stricter Basel III requirements due to be imposed on banks, corporates worldwide are finding it increasingly challenging to obtain longer tenor loans from banks and financial institutions to finance their investments in infrastructure projects. Clifford Capital addresses this issue by providing tailored project finance products and solutions specifically in support of Singapore-based companies engaged in overseas projects. “Singapore is home to many companies that have the ability to successfully expand into overseas markets, but have not been able to reach their full potential due to current funding gaps. Focusing on sectors in which Singapore companies have competitive strengths, such as infrastructure, particularly power, waste and water treatment and transport; as well as offshore marine, Clifford Capital aims to act as a catalyst for these companies to capture business opportunities around the world.”, shared Clifford Capital’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Clive Kerner following the launch of his company. For more information, please visit: http://cliffordcap.sg/
Clifford Capital is backed by a strong consortium of shareholders including Temasek, DBS, Standard Chartered, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, Manulife and Prudential. It is able to leverage upon their expertise, networks and resources as needed and, given that Clifford Capital will be operating as an open platform, will also seek to partner with other banks and financial institutions to deliver financing solutions to Singapore clients as they take the next step in their growth. Its flexible financing solutions will primarily consist of long term senior debt to cross border projects, but can also be extended into investments in mezzanine debt and, on a more selective basis, equity. Another unique aspect of Clifford Capital is the guarantee provided by the Singapore Government on debt instruments issued by Clifford Capital. This allows the company to raise funds competitively, enabling it to offer financing terms which will help its clients to compete internationally. This government support and strong backing from reputable stakeholders has helped Clifford Capital attain the highest AAA rating by Standard & Poors for its US$1 billion Euro Medium-Term Note Programme, expected to be launched in Q1 2013. “With the Asian Development Bank estimating close to US$8.3 trillion worth of infrastructure investment within Asia alone over the next decade, we are seeing unprecedented opportunities for companies with the necessary expertise. Clifford Capital is expected to provide about US$400 million of financing to qualifying projects annually. This will in turn catalyse an additional US$2 to US$3 billion of financing, supporting the ability of globally competitive Singapore-based enterprises to tap into these opportunities on a worldwide basis”, added Mr. Kerner.
The Ministry of Finance announced in February this year the setting up of a project finance company to plug gaps in project financing for large, long-term crossborder projects. The newly established project finance company has been incorporated as Clifford Capital Pte Ltd, and has appointed Clive Kerner as CEO as the company prepares to start operations in the last quarter of this year. The Chairman of Clifford Capital, Mr Kai Nargolwala, commented that, “We are fortunate to have attracted someone of Clive’s calibre. He brings more than 25 years of emerging markets debt financing experience to Clifford Capital including substantial experience in Asia”. Until recently Mr Kerner was CEO of Linq Asia Capital AG, a specialist finance company focused on high yield credit and mezzanine credit investing in South East Asia. Prior to that, he spent 20 years in banking, working on project and infrastructure finance in Asia. Mr Kerner said, “Our objective is to address market gaps in project and structured asset-backed finance. We will initially focus on longer term financing in support of Singapore-based companies engaged in projects in emerging markets such as Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. Our target sectors are infrastructure, particularly power, waste and water treatment and transport; as well as offshore and marine. These are sectors in which Singapore companies have competitive strengths,” he added.
The announcement by the Ministry of Finance in February also mentioned that a consortium led by Temasek, DBS Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation was working together to establish the project finance company. Since then, two additional investors, Prudential Singapore and Manulife Financial Corporation, through its unit John Hancock, have joined the Temasek-led consortium as shareholders of Clifford Capital. Clifford Capital will be run on a commercial basis. It will work with other financial institutions to develop the market for cross-border project finance, for example through co-financing deals. It expects to provide about S$400 million of financing annually once it builds up its operations and market presence, which could in turn catalyse an additional S$2 to S$3 billion of financing. This will support the growth of globally competitive Singapore-based enterprises. The company will receive government support to ensure its viability. In particular, the Government of Singapore will guarantee the debt instruments issued by Clifford Capital. This guarantee will allow Clifford Capital to raise funds competitively. It can thereby also offer terms to Singapore-based companies that will help them compete internationally on a more equal footing.
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