Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas is joining a string of African borrowers looking to tap the international syndicated loan market in early 2012, with active deals across the continent totaling $6 billion, bankers said. “There is certainly more activity coming out of Africa than there has been for a while,” one European banker said.
A large portion of the loans this year are expected to be new money, propelling telecom, infrastructure and commodity developments. While Europe struggles with a debt crisis, lenders’ optimism over Africa’s potential in 2012 is built the continent’s 2011 volumes of $23.76 billion, its second highest total ever.
NLNG is receiving proposals for a $1 billion-plus syndicated loan that will enable it to purchase new LNG tankers, with potential sponsorship from National Nigerian Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), ENI, Shell and Total, a banker close to the deal said. NLNG declined to comment. Nationwide protests following Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to cut the country’s fuel subsidy have not derailed NLNG’s hopes, nor has it damaged state oil firm NNPC’s efforts to generate $3 billion worth of loans. Exxon Mobil and NNPC’s $1.5 billion loan to back the development of offshore oil fields is expected to close by the end of January, while negotiations for NNPC’s second $1.5 billion deal are under way again.