Introduction to Project Finance

Project finance is typically defined as limited or non-recourse financing of a new project through separate incorporation of vehicle or Project Company. Project financing involves non-recourse financing of the development and construction of a particular project in which the lender looks principally to the revenues expected to be generated by the project for the repayment of its loan and to the assets of the project as collateral for its loan rather than to the general credit of the project sponsor.

Project Financing includes understanding the rationale for project financing, how to prepare the financial plan, assess the project risks, design the financing mix, and raise the funds. In addition, one must understand the cogent (intellectual, powerful) analyses of why some project financing plans have succeeded while others have failed.

A knowledge-base is required regarding the design of contractual arrangements to support project financing; issues for the host government legislative provisions, public/private infrastructure partnerships, public/private financing structures; credit requirements of lenders, and how to determine the project’s borrowing capacity; how to prepare cash flow projections and use them to measure expected rates of return; tax and accounting considerations; and analytical techniques to validate the project’s feasibility

Characteristics of Project Financing

  • A separate project entity is created that receives loans from lenders and equity from sponsors.
  • Component of debt is very high in project financing.
  • Debt services and repayments entirely depend on the projects cash flows.
  • Project assets used as collateral for loan repayments.
  • Project financing most appropriate for projects involving large amount of capital expenditure and involving high risk.

Comparison between Corporate Finance and Project Finance

Corporate finance is often used for shorter, less capital-intensive projects that do not warrant outside financing. The company borrows funds to construct a new facility and guarantees to repay the lenders from its available operating income and its base of assets. However private companies avoid this option, as it strains their balance sheets and capacity, and limits their potential participation in future projects. Project financing is different from traditional forms of finance because the financier principally looks to the assets and revenue of the project in order to secure and service the loan.

In project finance a team or consortium of private firms establishes a new project company to build own and operate a separate infrastructure project. The new project company to build own and operate a separate infrastructure project. The new project company is capitalized with equity contributions from each of the sponsors. In contrast to an ordinary borrowing situation, in a project financing the financier usually has little or no recourse to the non-project assets of the borrower or the sponsors of the project. The project is not reflected in the sponsors’ balance sheets.

Extent of Recourse

Recourse refers to the right to claim a refund from another party, which has handled a bill at an earlier stage. The extent of recourse refers to the range of reliance on sponsors and other project participants for enhancement to protect against certain projects risks. In project financing there is limited or no recourse. Non-recourse project finance is an arrangement under which investors and credit financing the project does not have any direct recourse to the sponsors. In other words, the lender is not permitted to request repayment from the parent company if borrower fails to meet its payment obligation. Although creditors security will include the assets being financed, lenders rely on the operating cash flow generated from those assets for repayment.

When the project has assured cash flows in the form of a reliable off taker and well-allocated construction and operating risks, the lenders are comfortable with non-recourse financing. Lenders prefer limited recourse when the project has significantly higher risks. Limited recourse project finance permits creditors and investors some recourse to the sponsors. This frequently takes the form of a pre completion guarantee during a projects construction period, or other assurance of some form of support for the project. In most developing market projects and in other projects with significant construction risk, project finance is generally of the limited recourse type.

Credit: Project Management Basics-MGU

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