Union Bank of Switzerland is leading a $662.5 million bank loan to back the $830 million Quezon Power Project in the Philippines.
The deal, launched in New York on Thursday, is one of the first project financings in Asia launched without goverment funding or guarantees.
NationsBank Corp. is underwriting approximately $100 million of the loan, and is also leading 51% of a $100 million, 12-year piece insured by the Overseas Private Investment Corp.
Bankers said they expect more such project finance transactions that neither have, nor require, government guarantees.
"This deal is a landmark for the Philippines," said Paul Naumann, a managing director at Union Bank. "As the emerging markets continue to evolve, there'll be more transactions structured like this."
In most developing countries, project finance deals typically require government support, until financiers become comfortable with various companies without it.
"In almost every developing country, you have this trend where everything has to be financed with government support until there is a breakthrough," said Charles J. Hill, the president of Fieldstone Private Capital Group.
Bankers hope that what will make this deal viable in the marketplace is the strength of its two project sponsors, International Generating Company Ltd., and Ogden Energy Inc.
"In many ways, people relied on a guarantee for projects that weren't quite there," said Richard Ennis, a vice president at Union Bank of Switzerland. "In our case, our sponsors have done an excellent job developing the project. We view this as a project that'll go off smoother than a guaranteed transaction."
NationsBank is one of only four American banks with any appreciable market share in project finance. The others are BankAmerica Corp., Chase Manhattan Corp., and Citicorp.
"We see this transaction as an opportunity to work with these partners on other projects they might pursue in other parts of the world," said Mike Nielsen, director in the Project Finance Group at NationsBanc Capital Markets.
Mr. Nielsen said that NationsBank sees project finance as an important business line that supports key client relationships.
"The core companies who seek project financing are utility companies," said Mr. Nielsen. NationsBank has been working with these companies during deregulation and as they extend their activities internationally.
The Quezon power project loan consists of three tranches, plus a letter of credit. The first part is a $405 million, five year revolving construction loan; the second is the 12-year, $100 million term loan, and the third a $145 million, uninsured 10-year construction and term loan.