During its 18-year tenure in Mexico, Santander has structured and executed deals for some of the largest infrastructure projects in the country, and Latin America. The bank’s pivotal role in financing Mexico’s growing gas pipeline network through the Ramones II Norte pipeline is extraordinary, however.
The Los Ramones pipelines are expected to extend from the US-Mexico border to central Mexico, delivering fuel that is critical to the country’s industrial and economic growth. With sponsors Pemex and IENova facing a three-month timeline to secure financing, Santander agreed to underwrite the entire $1.275 billion deal for the Ramones II Norte pipeline, a highly unusual and competitive move in a market that has adhered almost exclusively to the club deal format since the financial crisis in 2008.
“We said the only way you can do it is for us to underwrite and disburse and syndicate. That’s why they hired us. We were under a lot of pressure to do it,” said Alejandro de la Vega, head of Santander’s project finance business in Mexico, of the underwriting risk.
In addition to the novelty of underwriting and the tight timeline, the deal was also the largest project financing to be signed under Mexican law, adding an extra layer of complexity for lenders that are accustomed to New York law. However, once the challenge was surpassed and the savings in legal fees realized, De la Vega says the deal is likely a precedent for future project financings in Mexico.
“We always seek to be the main bank and work on the main operations in the country,” says De la Vega. “We are very well-positioned in the sector and we have a local platform that allows us to compete in a significant way.” LF
LatAm PF staffers: 18
LatAm offices: Mexico City
Head banker: Alejandro de la Vega, head of project finance
Remarkable deals: Ramones II Sur, Ramones II Norte, Red de Carreteras del Occidente
WINNER: Banco Santander