EDF Renewables and Maple Power have increased the debt package backing their Saint Nazaire offshore wind farm in France by EUR 800m to repay a bridge loan and pay themselves dividends, sources said.
The sponsors of the 480 MW project, which became fully operational in November, refinanced the existing EUR 1.45bn term loan for the project signed in 2019 and increased its size to about EUR 2.25bn.
Part of the new debt refinanced a EUR 431m equity bridge loan, with the rest earmarked for dividends, said the sources.
The latest total debt package, which also includes another roughly EUR 250m of revolving credit facilities and other credit lines, was signed by a consortium of 18 banks.
The lenders include Bank of China, Banque Postale, BayernLB, Belfius, BNP Paribas, bpifrance, Caixabank, CIC, Credit Agricole, DZ Bank, Mizuho, MUFG, Natixis, Natwest, Norinchukin, Rabobank, Societe Generale and Standard Chartered.
BNP Paribas acted as financial advisor in the refinancing process. Clifford Chance acted as legal advisor to the borrower and Linklaters acted as legal advisor to the lenders, the sources said.
EDF and Maple Power, a joint venture of Canada’s Enbridge and CPPIB, completed the Saint Nazaire project in November after three years of construction, connecting all 80 GE turbines to the Loire-Atlantique coast.
When its debt package closed in 2019 Saint Nazaire was the first offshore wind project in France to secure financing.
The previous debt package had an 18.5-year tenor, and also included a EUR 97m stand-by tranche, a EUR 83m VAT facility, a EUR 59m debt service reserve facility, EUR 30m of working capital, EUR 118m letter of credit, as well as the main term loan.
BNP Paribas, Soc Gen, Caixabank and Rabobank were among the previous lending group, while new members of the latest lending group include Bank of China and Norinchukin. Helaba and KfW are among the original lenders that did not participate in the latest refinancing.
Maple took ownership of its stake in Saint Nazaire in 2016 as part of Enbridge’s acquisition of a 50% stake in French offshore wind development company Éolien Maritime France (EMF) for CAD 282m (EUR 193m).
EDF Renewables already owned the other half of EMF and at the time of Enbridge's acquisition of EMF the new partners announced plans to co-develop three large-scale offshore wind farms in France with a combined capacity of 1.42 GW.
Saint Nazaire was the first of the three projects to be developed, followed by the 498 MW Fecamp project, which is due to start operating by the end of the year. Lastly the consortium’s 448 MW Courseulles-sur-Mer is also under construction and is expected to begin commercial operations by the end of 2024.
Beyond the initial three projects the partners are also currently developing a 400-600 MW offshore wind project near Dunkirk. It is expected to be ready for operations in 2026.
Maple Power, CPP, Banque Postale, BayernLB, Belfius, Caixabank, Mizuho, MUFG and Standard Chartered declined to comment.
EDF Renewables, Enbridge, Linklaters, BNP Paribas, Bank of China, bpifrance, CIC, Credit Agricole, DZ Bank, Natixis, NatWest, Norinchukin, Rabobank and Société Générale did not respond to a request for comment.
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