EBRD considering 85 mln euro loan to support concession of Sofia Airport

EBRD considering 85 mln euro loan to support concession of Sofia Airport

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said it is exploring providing a project finance loan of up to 85 million euro ($100 million) to support the concession of Bulgaria's Sofia Airport.

The EBRD will provide the loan to the concessionaire of Sofia Airport, SOF Connect AD - a special purpose vehicle owned by a consortium led by French-based investment firm Meridiam, the bank said in a statement on Tuesday.

The project finance loan will be a part of a wider debt package worth 250 million euro, provided jointly with other international financial institutions and commercial banks, the EBRD added.

The EBRD will decide whether to approve the loan on December 2.

The financing would support expansion of the private sector participation in the infrastructure sector in Bulgaria, the EBRD explained, adding that the project will include modernisation and upgrade of a strategic airport infrastructure in the country.

"The Bank's loan will provide long-term project financing, for a long life infrastructure asset, which is not readily available in Bulgaria from local or international commercial banks in the current crisis market environment. Considering that the project will be the first large scale infrastructure concession in the country, presence of the EBRD in the process is key to ensure a successful implementation, making the Bank strongly additional," the bank said.

In July, the government signed a contract for awarding a 35-year concession of Sofia Airport to the consortium. The consortium will invest 608 million euro ($703.7 million) in the airport over the duration of the contract, Borissov said at the time.

Passenger numbers at Sofia Airport declined by 58.4% year-on-year to 259,084 in September, data from the airport operator shows.

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