Winner: Gatún Power Financing
At a time when rising energy costs are causing pain for governments and consumers around the
world, Panama has found a way to save 20% on its electricity expenditure with a new billiondollar gas-fired power plant, Generadora Gatún.
Construction work on the project began in March after its sponsors, a joint venture between
InterEnergy and AES Corp. closed financing, the centerpiece of which is a $709-million seniorsecured term loan facility, which won the award for Loan of the Year.
Panama is looking to natural gas to help diversify its energy matrix, which relies heavily on
hydropower and is exposed to price spikes in years with less rainfall. It also wants to phase out
the use of dirtier fuel sources such as crude oil and coal.
Enter Gatún, a greenfield, combined-cycle gas turbine plant, which will add 670MW of power
generation, bringing in liquid natural gas under long term contract via a terminal at AES’
nearby Colon operation. It also has three 20-year take-or-pay Power Purchase Agreements
(PPA) with the country’s main electricity distributors.
Financing for the project gravitated towards the commercial bank market due to a standing
mandate with the lead arrangers — Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. and Natixis — when the
project rights were acquired in 2020, which made it unique, says AES Panamá Chief Financial
Officer Jeff MacKay.
“We decided very early that given the sovereign rating of Panama, the strength of the local
financial market, our reputation as sponsor, we felt comfortable we could generate adequate
demand for a successful transaction and a very successful syndication” MacKay says.
SMBC and Natixis as joint book-runners and coordinating lead arrangers were joined by 10
banks: Bank of China, ICBC, Intesa Sanpaolo, Sabadell, Scotiabank, and Societe Generale
along with local lenders Banco Aliado, Banco Nacional, Caja de Ahorro, and Mega ICBC
It was a challenge to make the project bankable given the complexities of the project, including
permitting, access to water, and public hearings on environmental issues, says InterEnergy’s
CFO Andres Slullitel.
“It was a very demanding transaction. The acquisition of the project vis-a-vis financing took
place in parallel. The transaction might not have happened with other lenders that lacked such
experience,” Slullitel says.
AES & InterEnergy
Banco Aliado, Banco National, Bank of China, Caja de Ahorro, Global Infrastructure Partners
(GIP), Icaza, González-Ruiz & Alemán, ICBC, Intesa Sanpaolo, Mega ICBC Bank, Morgan &
Morgan, Natixis, Paul Hastings, Scotiabank, Shearman & Sterling, SMBC, Societe Generale
All supporting financial institutions and law firms were transmitted to LatinFinance by the
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