Led by Yapi Merkezi, the Avrasya Tuneli (Eurasia Tunnel) AS (an SPV incorporated to execute the Project, “ATAS” in short) signed the finance documents on 11th of December in Ankara. The transaction is a landmark for Turkish BOTs and PPPs alike, as this is the first ever transaction with an implementation, or concession, contract which embodies a detailed debt assumption by Turkish sovereign detailing termination compensation mechanics.
ATAS, jointly owned by Yapi Merkezi and SK Engineering & Construction of Korea, will have the right to build and operate for 30 years a tunnel for light motor vehicles to connect Europe and Asia. The tunnel, which will be among the top ten largest diameter tunnels in the world, is going to be the fourth Bosphorus crossing for motor vehicles together with the other three Bosphorus Bridges, one of which was just tendered in 2012 and still in early development phase. The expected date for the start of commercial operation is late 2016 or early 2017.
The users will not only benefit invaluable time savings, but additional fuel economies will also help to ease the macroeconomic burden on the Turkish economy which more than heavily depends on exported fuel. Non-users will also benefit from the timesavings due to decreased congestion on the existing bridges and thus the Project will have a net reduction of emissions.
The USD 960 million 18 years loan has been underwritten by EIB, EBRD, Kexim and K-Sure. SMBC, Standard Chartered and Mizuho participated under Kexim and K-Sure covered facilities, while Turkish banks Isbank, Yapi Kredi and Garanti provided guarantees for part of the EIB financing package. Deutsche Bank participated in the interest rate hedging together with some of the covered Lenders.
Unicredit acted as financial advisor for ATAS, and Istanbul based DK Dedeoglu Kocar Infrastructure Investment provided financial and transactional advisory services for Yapi Merkezi.
Başar Arioglu (Managing Member of Board of Directors Yapı Merkezi Construction and Industry Inc. and ATAS Chairman), Metin Tahan (General Manager, The Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications, Directorate General of Infrastructure Investments) and Evren Dilekli (Vice President of General Directorate of Foreign Economic Relations, Republic of Turkey Prime Ministry Undersecretariat of Treasury) delivered their speeches at the signing ceremony. After the speeches, the ceremony ended with a cocktail.