The Project Finance 2023 guide features 20 jurisdictions. The guide provides the latest legal information on public-private partnership (PPP) transactions, guarantees and security, judgments of foreign courts, foreign investment, structuring and documentation considerations, bankruptcy and insolvency, insurance, tax, and project and financing agreements.
Last Updated: November 02, 2023
Project Finance Developments
In recent years, the number of participants in global project finance markets has increased notably, as a wider range of lenders and sponsors, located in various parts of the world, have become active players.
The capacity to fund large-scale projects and historical experience in cross-border transactions have led commercial banks to act as a traditional source of financing. However, the financial crisis and the changes in the financial regulatory framework, such as the Basel III standards, have limited the availability of credit and have brought multi-sourced financing for commercial banks into the main structure, filling the funding gap worldwide.
This means that large-scale projects are now financed using more sophisticated and complex financial and legal instruments, provided by a diverse set of public and private institutions. In recent years, the diversity of market participants has risen, and includes capital markets investors, export credit agencies (ECAs), multilateral development finance institutions and government lending institutions.
Notwithstanding this increased complexity, a combination of local market expertise, sound commercial structures (and relationships), due diligence and robust security packages has helped to ensure that the new structures are used effectively.
Moreover, global economic growth and the consequent increased demand for energy have become a major driver for capital investment; this is especially the case in fast-growing countries. In emerging markets, despite the political uncertainty (especially with COVID-19) and tighter fiscal policies, the flows from developed financial markets have driven the search for yields.
Required Investments and Results
The need for remarkable projects and innovative deals worldwide over recent years has dominated the headlines. For example, the Asian Development Bank estimated that investment in infrastructure in Asia must add up to approximately USD1.7 trillion per year by 2030 in order to maintain growth momentum, tackle poverty and respond to the issue of climate change. See www.worldfinance.com.
In 2017, the McKinsey Global Institute released a report assessing the worldwide demand for increased infrastructure investment. This report estimated that, from 2017 to 2035, the world must invest USD3.7 trillion a year in economic infrastructure (such as transportation, power, water and telecommunications systems) in order to support rates of growth. The report further estimated that emerging economies will demand approximately 63% of that amount.
However, despite high demand for a greater number of projects, the market continues to be adversely affected by the instability of commodity prices and the difficulties arising from global political events.
As a result, according to data from Refinitiv (see here), global project finance loans in 2022 totalled USD363.1 billion from 953 deals, the highest volume on record and an increase of 12% compared to 2021, which amounted to USD305.9 billion. The power sector remained the most active throughout 2022, with financing totaling USD126.5 billion via 616 deals, with a slight decrease of 5% compared with 2020.
America’s project finance loans in 2022 reached USD143.8 billion from 386 deals, up an impressive 48% from 2021. The power sector accounted for approximately 39% of that market, closing for a total amount of USD56.6 billion.
EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) project finance loans totalled USD149.5 billion in 2022, representing a decrease of 7% compared to 2021.
Asia Pacific and Japan project finance loans in 2022 amounted to USD69.8 billion, which was up 7% compared to 2021 figures.
The climate bond financing market has seen a decrease in 2022, mainly due to global inflation. In 2022, climate-aligned issuance decreased to USD487.1 billion, which was down 16% compared to 2021. In addition, climate bonds deals were priced in 40 currencies, indicating a global presence of this type of instrument. See here.
Although it is difficult to predict how the markets will react, particularly given concerns about political events and the continuing impact of COVID-19 on the global economy, the demand for infrastructure projects is as high as ever, and the growth of major project financing is likely to continue.
It is clear that structuring project finance which includes multiple funding sources is becoming more complex every year. It is therefore key for market participants (including lawyers) to be fully familiar with market trends and a diverse pool of businesses and risks associated with the projects.
Despite all recent results and developments, project finance has frequently proved to be a resilient way to fund infrastructure projects. Therefore, it remains one of the main sources of funds worldwide, and there is no reason to believe that this will cease to be the case in the near future.