Victoria science facility refinanced

Plenary Group has completed a $230m refinancing of the AgriBio, Centre for AgriBioscience in Victoria.

The investor said the refinancing comprises a unique, single 17-year debt tranche that aligns with the end of the PPP concession, eliminating refinancing risk. The debt is fully underwritten by NAB, one of the three previous lenders for the project.

Plenary head of origination Paul Crowe said the structure is a first for a PPP refinancing in Australia.

“Aligning the tenor of the refinancing with the end of the PPP concession completely removes the refinancing risk for the equity investors and the Victorian Government,” Crowe said.

“This outcome is a sign of the project’s underlying strength. It could not have happened without such a successful collaboration with the state, NAB and our co-investors.

Allens was SPV counsel, while Plenary was financial advisor. King & Wood Mallesons advised the lenders and KPMG provided the model audit.

AgriBio is a biosciences facility in Melbourne with some 30,000 sq m of research laboratories, glasshouses and office accommodation for more than 400 scientists, students and support staff. It is a joint initiative of the Victorian Government and La Trobe University.

In 2009 the Victorian Government contracted the Plenary Research consortium, comprising Plenary as financial arranger, investor and asset manager; builder Grocon; and
facilities management provider Honeywell to design, build, finance, and maintain the facility for 25 years.