Big Bucks

July 03, 2007 (LBO) – HSBC Bank in Sri Lanka is looking to finance two large transport sector projects with private sector involvement which will spawn new opportunities for local and international banks, a top official said. Three of Sri Lanka’s largest conglomerates, John Keells, Hayleys and Aitken Spence have put in bids to build a container terminal at the Colombo port with CMA CGM of France, Westport of Malaysia and the Port of Singapore Authority.

The International Finance Corporation and the Asian Development Bank is already backing bidders. The ADB is also funding the government to build a breakwater.

The first terminal is expected to cost around 400 million dollars. HSBC is eying the lead arranger slot to syndicate debt which is typically more than half the project.

“In addition to financing the main project there are opportunities for banks to get involved in financing working capital and contractors,” David Griffiths, head of HSBC in Sri Lanka told LBO.

HSBC has already bagged a deal to lead-arrange financing for a 200 million dollar toll road between Colombo city and the international airport at Katunayake.

The 24 kilometre expressway has had several false starts but Vinci Construction G