Govt-backed Clifford Capital to raise $1.2 billion

Govt-backed Clifford Capital to raise $1.2 billion

SINGAPORE - Government- backed infrastructure project financing firm Clifford Capital will raise US$1 billion(S$1.23 billion) from the market and execute its first deal in the near future, said its chief executive Clive Kerner last Thursday.

The US$1 billion Euro Medium-Term Note Programme, guaranteed by the Singapore Ministry of Finance (MOF), is rated AAA by Standard & Poor's.

"We have a very strong pipeline of deals already," said Mr Kerner in a media roundtable yesterday. "We expect to be executing the first deal in the near future."

For its initial deals, it will be looking at transaction sizes of up to US$100 million. "That will grow as the business grows. We do have access to quite a significant capital pool," he added.

The potential clients it has been talking to are from the power, water, transportation, oil and gas, as well as offshore marine sectors.

The projects are well-spread geographically.

"We are here to support Singapore-based companies, so we follow these companies wherever they go," said Mr Kerner.

Increasingly, companies are becoming more ambitious in terms of the markets they go to.

It's no longer just within Asia, he added.

Hence Clifford Capital is now looking at projects in the Middle East, Africa, South America, and even the developed world - the United Kingdom and even the United States.

In February this year, the MOF said that Temasek Holdings and three banks were working together to establish a project finance company that would plug funding gaps for large, long-term, cross-border projects.

The company has since been incorporated as Clifford Capital, with Temasek Holdings being the biggest owner with a 40.5 per cent stake.

DBS Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and John Hancock Life Insurance Company (USA) own 9.9 per cent each.

Prudential Assurance Company Singapore holds the remaining 19.9 per cent stake.

"Part of the thinking is that a number of Singapore companies are at the stage where they need to get bigger, and they need to expand overseas. We are hoping to help them do that." Clifford, noted Mr Kerner, came to the market at a time when commercial banks - the traditional providers of these forms of financing - are capital-constrained. Meanwhile, demand for infrastructure development continues to be tremendous.

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