Dentons advises lender on gold-mining project

Denton Wilde Sapte has advised Société Générale on a senior loan agreement to finance Oxus Mining on the construction of its gold-mining project at Amantaytau in Uzbekistan. It is the first piece of work that the firm has undertaken for the bank in the CIS.
The deal represents a renewed confidence in the region. “This is the first project financing in the CIS that has been undertaken without the support of a multilateral institution, significant sponsor or sovereign guarantees,” said Elena Kirillova, the Dentons consultant who led on the deal.
This is in part due to the recent strengthening of the gold market. “At the moment, the gold price is quite high and stable. It was very low for a number of years,” said Kirillova. “Now it's back at a price where there is interest in financing gold-mining projects.”
Kirillova worked with project finance partner David Nanson and construction partner David Courtney-Hatcher in the London office, as well as head of the firm's Tashkent office Igor Sidelnikov.
Nanson said that Dentons was chosen for the project because of its extensive experience in this type of work. “I think it was a combination of knowing us as a firm that is established in banking and finance, but also because of our experience in Uzbekistan,” he commented. The firm has previously acted for the bank on a project in Russia.
CMS Cameron McKenna is advising Oxus. A team led by corporate partner Peter Smith initially advised on a placing and open offer, which raised £5m of equity for the deal. Banking and international finance partner Nicholas Zervos is advising on project finance aspects.
Camerons also acted for Oxus when it floated on AIM last July, but first acted for the client a number of years ago when Camerons had an office in Tashkent. That office was closed in 2000, when the firm transferred its entire CIS practice, including practice head Kirillova, to Dentons.
Natural resources lawyer Alexander Lesser, who acts as general counsel and vice-president for Oxus, provided local advice. As well as his roles at Oxus, Lesser is also a consultant to London firm Kerman & Co. Lesser joined Kermans earlier this month, after he dissolved his Kazakhstan firm Lesser Zhakenov & Newton.