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ČSOB and KBC Investco close a unique financing transaction for the privatisation of Sokolovská uhelná in total amount of CZK 5.2 billion

10.6.2004 10:41

Press release of ČSOB and KBC Investco
ČSOB and KBC Investco closed one of the largest transactions in the area of structured finance in Central Europe. This is a key characteristic of a financing provided to Sokolovská těžební, a.s., in total amount of CZK 5.2 billion, arranged in a combination of a term facility provided by ČSOB and a mezzanine (i.e. subordinated) facility provided by KBC Investco. Purpose of the financing is to fund the purchase of Sokolovská uhelná, a.s. shares from the state and from other minority shareholders. Inclusion of the mezzanine facility is the key unique feature of the transaction. The capital strength of KBC/ČSOB Group, the quality of the privatisation project and the customised structuring have enabled the banks to finance the privatisation of Sokolovska uhelna by using solely the KBC/ČSOB Group sources. At a later stage, transfers to other lenders, who may require certain timing comfort, could be considered.

The key objective of structured financing is to provide a customised mixture of various types of individual facilities which would best balance the involved risks, project quality, management industry experience, available capital and price. Share of the mezzanine tranche, which to a certain extent supplements the project equity, was over 10% of the total financing, with beneficial implications mainly for the client´s total interest costs. As Mr. Marek Ditz, the CSOB executive director responsible for specialised financing quoted after the signing: “Since the EU accession, there has been an increased interest in acquisition finance and an increased demand for structured financing. Such approach often allows for financing projects which would be viewed as too expensive or too risky by standard products.” According to his opinion the transaction is the best example of a quick and customised client solution. „Sokolovská těžební transaction is the first project of KBC Investco in Central Europe“, noted Floris Vansina, the General Manager of KBC Investco. „Our objective is to be perceived as a private equity player in this region and I am very pleased that we could participate in this highly important transaction. We are looking forward to next opportunities“, added Vansina.

“In all material aspects the ČSOB / KBC Investco offer has met our ideas of financing the acquisition of Sokolovská uhelná. We appreciate not only the qualitative aspects of the transaction, but also the fast execution of the transaction by the financing banks. We expect that the state shareholding and the key minorities will be bought out in the course of June”, noted Mr. František Štěpánek, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sokolovská těžební.

In general, structured financing can be defined as a package comprising various types of facilities provided by several parties potentially to several borrowers. Until recently, the banks have preferred less complicated transactions. Also, the borrowers have often preferred to deal only with one financing institution in order to either simplify or speed up the loan approval and execution process. According to Mr. Petr Hutla, CSOB Senior Executive Officer responsible for corporate and institutional banking, structured finance solutions can be expected to be used on a more frequent basis in a near future. “There is a growing diversification of clients’ needs and acquisition methods. By focusing solely on standard product, the banks would lose the ability to provide necessary comfort to their clients”, said Hutla.

Milan Tománek
Communication and Investor Relations
mtomanek@csob.cz, tel. 261 351 003

Contact with the media:
Pavel Hejzlar, Komunikace ČSOB
e-mail: phejzlar@csob.cz, tel.: +420 261 351 020

Jaroslav Rokos, MBA, ekonomický ředitel
Sokolovská uhelná, a.s.
e-mail: rokos@suas.cz, tel: +420 352 642 131

Floris Vansina, General Manager
KBC Investco N.V.
e-mail: floris.vansina@kbcinvestco.be, tel: +32 2 429 51 74

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