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BANKING

Infrastructure finance: Mexico passes toll road financing test

One of Latin America’s biggest challenges is financing its massive infrastructure needs, and nowhere is this more pressing than in Mexico, especially in toll road development.

Mexico’s Fideicomiso de Apoyo para el Rescate de Autopistas Concesionadas trust holds an estimated $35 billion in toll road concessions. These will be developed over the next five years through 11 packages totalling 45 roads sold through auctions. The first package of four toll roads was sold in a 30-year public-private partnership to Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners and ICA, a Mexican construction company. Last month Santander designed, structured and solely underwrote a transaction to pay for the acquisition – a deal that has big implications for Mexico’s local capital markets, as well as toll road development.

The financing was Ps37.1 billion ($3.3 billion) of senior secured debt, syndicated via eight other banks despite the difficult market conditions. The transaction is the biggest private bank financing for a private borrower in Mexico and the largest infrastructure financing in the country.

The financing demonstrates just how far Mexico has come in recent years. This is the country that, following a currency and banking crisis in the mid-1990s, suffered the default of a number of private sector toll road concessions financed in US dollars. The deal also shows the potential of Mexico’s local currency market in its ability to absorb large chunks of financing.

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