Project Financing discipline includes understanding the rationale for project financing, how to prepare the financial plan, assess the risks, design the financing mix, and raise the funds. In addition, one must understand the cogent 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 partner-ships, 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
Project finance is finance for a particular project, such as a mine, toll road, railway, pipeline, power station, ship, hospital or prison, which is repaid from the cash-flow of that project. Project finance 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 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. In this situation, the credit risk associated with the borrower is not as important as in an ordinary loan transaction; what is most important is the identification, analysis, allocation and management of every risk associated with the project.
The purpose of this paper is to explain, in a brief and general way, the manner in which risks are approached by financiers in a project finance transaction. Such risk minimisation lies at the heart of project finance.
In a no recourse or limited recourse project financing, the risks for a financier are great. Since the loan can only be repaid when the project is operational, if a major part of the project fails, the financiers are likely to lose a substantial amount of money. The assets that remain are usually highly specialised and possibly in a remote location. If saleable, they may have little value outside the project.
Therefore, it is not surprising that financiers, and their advisers, go to substantial efforts to ensure that the risks associated with the project are reduced or eliminated as far as possible. It is also not surprising that because of the risks involved, the cost of such finance is generally higher and it is more time consuming for such finance to be provided.
Risk minimisation process
Financiers are concerned with minimising the dangers of any events which could have a negative impact on the financial performance of the project, in particular, events which could result in: (1) the project not being completed on time, on budget, or at all; (2) the project not operating at its full capacity; (3) the project failing to generate sufficient revenue to service the debt; or (4) the project prematurely coming to an end.
The minimisation of such risks involves a three step process. The first step requires the identification and analysis of all the risks that may bear upon the project. The second step is the allocation of those risks among the parties. The last step involves the creation of mechanisms to manage the risks.
If a risk to the financiers cannot be minimised, the financiers will need to build it into the interest rate margin for the loan.
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