BNP Paribas counts on Norton Rose for last minute financing

BNP Paribas has strengthened its relationship with Norton Rose, after turning to the firm when a borrower needed to complete a $730m (£470m) Nigerian oil pre-export financing in just a week.
The firm's London and Paris offices assisted BNP Paribas in arranging senior, subordinated and junior loan facilities for Nigeria's largest indigenous oil producer. The facilities were made available to Conoil and Continental Oil and Gas. The borrowers were advised by Jeffrey Tesler of Kaye Tesler & Co.
The instruction came into the Norton Rose offices via different contacts just as the UK August bank holiday was about to start. The Paris involvement was necessary because of French securities aspects to the transaction. The proceeds from the senior tranche of the loan needed to be in the Nigerian government's bank account by 5pm Lagos time on Friday 30 August, otherwise Conoil's sister company Globacom would not only lose its licence to operate as Nigeria's second telecoms provider, but would also forfeit the $20m (£12.9m) deposit it had already paid to the government.
The financing was secured on the receivables from one of the group's oil mining licences. The subordinated and junior facilities will be used for the rollout of Globacom's network.
BNP Paribas in-house lawyer Waqar Kalhoro said: “Working with the Norton Rose team under these extraordinary circumstances has definitely strengthened the relationship.”
Lead Norton Rose partner Simon Currie said: “The exceptionally short timeframe for the transaction meant that, even working around the clock, it was necessary to prioritise the most important of the commercial aspects of the deal. The pressure was significant, but we met the deadline due to our strength in energy and structured finance and our ability to be able to draw on the experience of leading individuals like Cynthia Witcombe in London and Nigel Ward in Paris.”
Witcombe, whose practice has a heavy African weighting, added: “The nuts and bolts of the deal, which would be signed between borrower and bank, were still being negotiated when we were getting instructions, and throughout the course of Saturday there were two or three revised term sheets coming through. It was extremely time pressured, but we were able to not start from a completely blank sheet of paper because of our previous experience.”
The strengthening of Norton Roses's financing links with BNP Paribas is a timely boost, coming in the wake of the departure of its acquisition finance team to Allen & Overy. “It's a relationship that we have very much held on to. It wasn't relevant to the team that moved,” said Witcombe.
Other international financings for the longstanding client have included a $15m (£9.7m) revolving loan facility for Sucden, Russia's largest sugar importer.