Latham & Watkins has been involved in the state of Qatar since 1994. Qatar Fertilizer Company (Qafco) is a joint venture between Qatar Petroleum and Norsk Hydro. In 1999, Lathams was instructed by QVC, a joint venture between a subsidiary of TotalFina, Norsk Hyder and Qatar Petroleum, so naturally, the firm was asked to pitch to advise Qafco and beat four other firms to win the work. Norton Rose was chosen to advise the banks.
The deal is unusual because it is the first deal in Qatar to be structured as a hybrid between project financing and corporate financing. The loan was made on the basis of Qafco’s balance sheet and the company obtained unsecured debt on the basis that it had been around for 25 years. At the same time, Qafco was obliged to provide certain reports and project documents that would not be seen in corporate financing.
Lathams assistant on the deal Simon Dickens said that because Qatar is an emerging market known for project financing, it is not a structure that is likely to be repeated.