Gleiss Lutz advises on billion-dollar refinancing of the “Meerwind” offshore wind farm through the issue of green bonds
The “Meerwind” offshore wind farm controlled by private equity investor Blackstone has fully refinanced its existing loans by the placement of green bonds in an amount of more than one billion US dollars (approx. 978 million euros). The complex refinancing includes several components and combines various financing instruments from different legal systems, including a U.S. private placement. This marks the first placement of green bonds by an operational offshore wind farm.
As part of the placement of the senior secured green bonds with institutional investors and banks, several tranches of notes were issued in euros and US dollars. These include a U.S. private placement under New York law, a promissory note loan (Schuldschein) as well as two registered bonds (Namensschuldverschreibungen) under German law. Additional components of the refinancing include a working capital and letter of credit facility under German law as well as several cross-currency swaps, which are also senior secured.
With 80 wind turbines and a total output of 288 megawatts, the “Meerwind” offshore wind farm is one of the largest wind farms in the North Sea. Blackstone acquired an 80 per cent stake in the project in 2008 and began with the construction of the turbines in 2011. The wind farm already commenced operations last year and the last wind turbines were connected to the grid this fall.
In connection with the refinancing, Gleiss Lutz advised “Meerwind” extensively on all capital markets and other financing issues. In addition, Gleiss Lutz also handled the necessary amendments to the project agreements required by the financing and advised on the corporate law aspects of the transaction.
The Gleiss Lutz advising team was led by Dr. Kai Arne Birke (partner, lead) and Frank Schlobach (partner as of 1 January 2016, both banking and finance, Frankfurt). The team further consisted of the following lawyers:
Financing: Dr. Helge Kortz, Dr. Eva Reudelhuber (both partners), Teresa Baldwin, Dr. Jan-Alexander Lange, Domingo de Prada, Nikolos Tsagareli (all Frankfurt).
Energy, projects: Dr. Tim Weber (Frankfurt), Dr. Marcus Dannecker (both partners, Stuttgart), Dr. Yvonne Kerth (Stuttgart) and Svenja Bender (Frankfurt) Corporate: Dr. Jan Bauer, Dr. Cornelia Topf (both partners), Jan Philipp Mohr (all Frankfurt), Dr. Hans-Georg Schulze (Berlin)
Tax: Dr. Michael Marquardt (partner), Melanie Nadler (both Frankfurt). Simpson Thacher & Bartlett advised on New York law.
Gleiss Lutz und Simpson Thacher & Bartlett have a long-standing close working relationship when advising on cross-border financing transactions.
Since Blackstone got involved in the project in 2008, Gleiss Lutz has provided Blackstone and Meerwind with comprehensive advice during the development phase of the project, in connection with securing the original project financing and during the construction phase.
The transaction underscores the increased importance of Gleiss Lutz’s financing practice. The law firm has recently made significant additions to the practice: In July, one of the leading lawyers in Germany in the area of loans and acquisition financing, Dr. Eva Reudelhuber, joined Gleiss Lutz. She had been a long-time partner at Linklaters. In addition, Frank Schlobach has been made a partner with effect as of 1 January 2016. He regularly advises on leveraged buyouts and other financings involving private equity investments.