€2.5bn Project Icon financing is largest KfW IPEX-Bank has led on its own

Though the Project Icon ships will be built at Meyer Turku in Finland, a significant share of components will come from Germany Though the Project Icon ships will be built at Meyer Turku in Finland, a significant share of components will come from Germany

KfW IPEX said the €2.5bn in multi export credit agency financing for Royal Caribbean's pair of LNG-powered newbuilds at Meyer Turku in Finland is the largest syndicate financing package the German bank has ever structured and led on its own.

The two ships are scheduled to enter service in 2022 and 2024. A substantial number of German manufacturers, among them numerous small and medium-sized enterprises, will supply parts of significant value for each ship, including the complete hull and main engine coming from Neptun Werft in Rostock.

Andreas Ufer, member of the management board of KfW IPEX-Bank, noted cruise ship construction is booming.

'The aim is to shape this trend for the lowest possible level of emissions for mankind and nature,' he said. 'We are pleased that our financing is helping to advance LNG propulsion.'

The construction not only affects Meyer's location in Turku, but also its whole supply network, both in Finland and Germany, on a 'significant scale,' according to Jan Meyer, CEO of Meyer Turku. He added: 'This combination of our successful distribution and the closely-tailored structured finance will sustainably secure jobs in Germany and Europe.'

KfW IPEX-Bank stepped up as the syndicate leader, initial mandated lead arranger, facility agent, documentation agent and Hermes agent. As earlier reported, the banking syndicate also includes BNP Paribas, HSBC, Commerzbank, Santander, BBVA, Bayern/LB, DZ Bank, JPMorgan and SMBC.

KfW IPEX-Bank is contributing €686m to the total financing package. Alongside a cover from the Finnish ECA, Finnvera, the financing is also backed by export credit insurance from Germany (Hermes cover). Finnish Export Credit, a subsidiary of Finnvera, will make up the majority of the funds at the OECD-set ship refinancing scheme commercial interest reference rate.

The loans, granted separately for each ship, have a term of 12 years from the respective newbuild delivery date.

Both ships will be equipped with dual-fuel technology—LNG and marine diesel—and, according to Royal Caribbean, they will be largely powered by LNG. Additionally, the cruise company is testing fuel cells as a supplemental energy source aboard an existing ship in preparation for use on the Project Icon vessels. Royal Caribbean hopes fuel cells will play a key role in powering the hotel functions.

KfW IPEX-Bank has operated for 10 years, following its Jan. 1, 2008, spin-off from KfW to become a legally independent GmbH (private limited company) with 441 employees. Within KfW Group, it is responsible for the export and project financing activities which have been carried out since the 1950s. Today, 680 employees work for the wholly-owned subsidiary of KfW at its headquarters in Frankfurt and at 10 foreign offices.

Since 2008, the bank has become established as a leading specialist financier in Germany and Europe. It offers structuring of medium- and long-term loans designed to support key industrial sectors in the export industry, for the development of economic and social infrastructure, for environmental protection and climate change mitigation, and to secure the supply of raw materials.

Since its spin-off, KfW IPEX-Bank has supported more than 3,000 projects and disbursed new commitments totalling €143bn.

'Right after its formation in 2008, our bank was confronted with the turbulent developments of the financial market crisis and managed to be successful,' CEO Klaus Michalak said. 'Through tailored financing for German and European exports and investments, we have given companies reliable support and thus contributed to safeguarding domestic economic power, jobs and growth.'

Posted 02 January 2018

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Anne Kalosh

US editor of Seatrade Cruise Review and Seatrade Cruise News

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