Bahrain pushes bid to become region’s financial gateway

February 02, 2014

Hosts MEED conference that will review structuring and funding projects in the region

Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain: Bahrain is making a renewed push to become the financial gateway to the Middle East and Africa as it hosts the MEED Project and Infrastructure Finance Conference.
Held under the Esteemed Patronage of H.E Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohamed Al Khalifa, Minister, Ministry of Finance, Kingdom of Bahrain, the conference will focus on the most relevant issues plaguing the region’s project and infrastructure financing market and provide market-driven success stories including working with project uncertainty, risk allocation and reduced involvement from European banks.
The conference could not have come at a better time, with the Middle East and Africa region accounting for the largest regional share of global project finance market in 2013, with a total of $87.6bn-worth of deals signed. The total transaction volume is more than double the $41.5bn raised in 2012 and the highest volume on record, according to data provider Dealogic. With a 21 per cent share of total market volume, it is the highest share recorded since 2007.
“The conference is to be addressed by more than 35 top-quality local, regional and international speakers,” says conference chairman Edmund O’Sullivan. “The response has been excellent and the conference will be the premier event for the regional project finance industry this season. This reflects the strong rebound in interest in project and infrastructure finance across the world.”
Saudi Aramco treasurer Jamal Al Rammah will attend the conference and accept the MEED Project & Infrastructure Finance Deal of the Year award on behalf of the Sadara team.
Economic Development Board (EDB) chief economist Dr. Jarmo Kotilaine will review the impact on GCC and Middle East economies of global economic and financial trends. “The level of interest on a market in recovery has been extremely high and we are delighted to be partnering with an event that will explore opportunities for investment in capital projects throughout the region, including Turkey. Bahrain has been the location of choice for some of the world’s leading players in this regard and is keen to continue to play its role as a financial gateway to the region,” said Kotilaine.
In hosting such an important international finance meet scheduled on February 4-5, 2014 at the Inter-Continental Regency in Manama, Bahrain will have reaffirmed its position as a leading global banking and finance hub.
In addition to its comprehensive coverage of global and regional trends in project and infrastructure finance, the MEED Project and Infrastructure Finance Conference will also investigate recently-completed major project finance deals including the $10.5bn Sadara project deal.
The second largest transaction to Sadara was the $4.5bn Emirates Aluminium Company deal. The financing was raised to fund the second phase of the expansion of the company’s processing plant. A $4.2bn Shariah-compliant refinancing was raised for the Saudi telecoms firm Zain at the end of July 2013, marking the third largest project finance deal to close in the region. The fourth largest deal was a $3.2bn deal raised in favour of Al Jubail Petrochemical Company in Saudi Arabia.
While government spending has been the key source for the project finance market in the region, public-private partnership is also being explored to finance some mega projects, especially in the transport and industrial sectors where massive investments are required.
“The fundamental principle of PPPs, done properly, is that they attribute risk and reward to the party best able to manage it.  This kind of proper attribution sends the proper signals to each party about lowering cost and finishing projects in a timely manner.  The model also brings to bear, in the best circumstances, the valuable skills sets of the private sector, including the lending sector,” said Judy Wilson, Partner, Blakes.
The MEED Project and Infrastructure Finance Conference, supported by the Ministry of Finance and the Bahrain Economic Development Board, is the leading forum for discussion and debate on crucial challenges that the infrastructure and project finance industry face in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey region. The conference, supported by Blakes as Conference Sponsor as well as McKenzie Limited and Shearman & Sterling, presents an opportunity for project owners, investors, fund managers, investment banks, ECA s, lenders and advisors across key sectors (petrochemicals, oil & gas, power & water, renewables, transport, social infrastructure and real estate) to discuss new market trends, deal structures and the latest commercial opportunities associated with mega-projects across the region. For the latest updates on the agenda, please visit
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