Canadian bank Scotiabank started its international expansion in Jamaica back in 1889. This year, the bank coronates its long involvement with the region by winning the award for Infrastructure Bank of the Year in Central America and the Caribbean for the work it undertook in one of the most challenging periods in the past 132 years.
Scotiabank overcame the restrictions imposed by the pandemic and optimized its local presence to push some of the most important infrastructure deals in the region past the finish line.
“The market was challenging, but it was also a surprisingly active period of time within the power and infrastructure space, despite the headwinds. Power and infrastructure need to be reinforced and are less subject to current macro dynamics than other sectors,” says Marc Chouchani, the head of Power and Infrastructure Finance in Latin America and the Caribbean at Scotiabank. “We saw not only continued need and interest in these sectors, but also support from governments and private actors alike to proceed with plans that, in many cases, preceded Covid.”
Chouchani leads the Latin American infrastructure team from New York, but relies on the bank’s presence in Panama, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Trinidad & Tobago, as well as Jamaica, to develop financial structures for projects in the region. The local presence came in handy once bankers were forced to stay at home during the Covid-19 pandemic. With infrastructure team at the New York HQ unable to travel to perform due diligence work on projects, the local partners were called on to do the job.
As a result, Scotiabank was able to coordinate deals such as the $1.53 billion bond, term loan facility and liquidity facility structured for AES Panama in August 2020.
The bond part of the deal, worth $1.38 billion, was the largest ever issued by a private entity in Central America. The whole transaction had a complex structure designed to accommodate the interests of AES and its different Panamanian partners, according to Chouchani.
And it was issued on the back of virtual road shows, back-to-back Zoom meetings and other pandemic-era innovations.
“It took us many months, quite a lot of work and much creativity,” he concludes.