Big Projects, Big Financing Needs

Public-Private Partnership Building €7.8 Billion French High-Speed Rail Line

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are increasingly becoming a key method for financing infrastructure projects. In 2011, White & Case worked on a huge PPP project—a €7.8 billion, 50-year concession to build and operate France’s Sud Europe-Atlantique (LGV SEA) high-speed railway line. The project, a 303-kilometer high-speed rail line connecting Tours and Bordeaux, is the largest-ever project finance deal in the French railway sector and one of Europe’s most important infrastructure investments in the past 20 years.

As counsel to the consortium’s lenders, we represented nine commercial banks, the European Investment Bank and the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations on the common financial documentation, project contracts and all legal aspects of the project—from preparing the consortium’s bids to financial closing on June 16, 2011.
“This project, which is fundamental to the European railway network, is unprecedented in many respects and represents a number of firsts,” say Paule Biensan and Jacques Bouillon, the Firm’s lead partners on the project. “Not only is it the first railway concession concluded by Réseau Ferré de France, but it is also the first contract concluded with a state guarantee provided under the new French recovery scheme.”

The winning consortium was led by VINCI Concessions and included VINCI SA; CDC Infrastructure, a wholly owned subsidiary of Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations; SOJAS, a dedicated investment entity; and AXA Private Equity.