By Liu Zhigang King & Wood Mallesons’ Finance Group
The history of Project Finance in China is not long, but it is rich. In the earliest days, Project Finance was used mainly in power plant deals, then later extended to water plant deals and petrochemical projects. At that time, Chinese sponsors were short of funds and experience, and Chinese banks were short of foreign exchange and caught up in bad loans. Furthermore, China’s infrastructure base was very weak, and the production capability of Chinese entities was also unreliable. Therefore, the lenders in the Project Finance market were mainly foreign banks, and the loans included commercial loans, export credit, and soft loans. The loans were used mainly to import the machinery and equipment produced by the foreign producers. As well as the collateral on all project assets, the lenders also requested and were able to obtain sponsors’ guaranties and even governmental guaranties for almost every project, although such arrangements are not typical under the project finance model.
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