Freshfields and Lovells lead on €1bn French PPP

Public law partner Thierry Laloum and finance partner Amir Jahanguiri led the Freshfields team advising the Synérail consortium. Counsel Vincent Brenot and associates Driss Bererhi, Hélène Pancrazi, Mathieu Werner and Darko Adamovic also acted on the deal.

Lovells, led by partners Ludovic Babin and Olivier Fille-Lambie, advised RFF.

The €1bn project, which was part of the French government’s economic recovery plan, was for the design, construction, operation and financing of the Global System for Mobile Communication-Railway network, and will take five years to complete.

The deal was financed by €58m of shareholders equity, €160m from RFF and a limited-recourse bank loan of €520m, from a group of eight commercial banks led by Crédit Agricole CIB, public bank Caisse de depots consignations sur Fonds d’Epargne (CDC FDE) and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Allen & Overy advised the senior commercial lenders with a team led by finance partners Rod Cork and Noël Chahid-Nouraï. Norton Rose advised EIB with structured finance partner Philippe Mallea leading the team.

Linklaters advised CDC FDE, with partners Olivier Jauffart and Paul Lignières leading the team.

The deal is thought to be France’s largest purely domestic rail PPP contract but it may soon be surpassed by larger ones with the CDG Express, which will link Paris with Charles De Gualle airport, and three more high-speed rail projects now in procurement stage.