The Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation have joined the league of big borrowers in the syndicated loan market in the first quarter of 2012, with proposals to obtain loans totalling $4bn.
A Reuters report cited international bankers close to the deal as saying that they had received proposals from the NLNG on a $1bn plus syndicated loan that would enable it purchase new LNG tankers. The proposals are with potential sponsorship arrangement from NNPC, ENI, Shell and Total.
The report also said a deal to get a loan of $1.5bn to back the development of offshore oil fields by Exxon Mobil and NNPC was expected to close by the end of January, adding that negotiations for an additional $1.5bn loan for NNPC was also on the way.
With this action, NLNG and NNPC will join a string of borrowers looking to tap into the international syndicated loan market early this year. Active deals across the continent currently amount to $6bn.
Large portions of the loans this year are expected to be new money, propelling telecom, infrastructure and commodity developments. A European banker was quoted as saying, “There is certainly more activity coming out of Africa than there has been for a while.”
While Europe struggles with a debt crisis, lenders’ optimism over Africa’s potential in 2012 is built on the continent’s 2011 volumes of $23.76bn, its second highest total ever.
The report said the nationwide protests that followed President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to cut the country’s fuel subsidy had neither derailed NLNG’s hopes of generating billions of dollars loans nor had it damaged NNPC’s efforts to generate $3bn worth of loans.
In other parts of Africa, Kenya is aiming to secure its $600m, two-year loan by early February. Also, Glencore Exploration’s $400m loan for an oil and gas development in Equatorial Guinea is poised to launch into general syndication.
Ghana Cocoa Board and South Africa’s FirstRand Bank are also looking to close their $200m loans within a fortnight, while Africa Export-Import Bank is considering a $350m equivalent plus loan, and MTN Ghana is seeking a $300m deal.