North America: Gordie Howe Bridge P3 winner’s debt financing, advisors revealed 

05 July 2018 - 12:00 am UTC

The Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) selected Bridging North America as its preferred proponent for the design-build-finance-operate-maintain (DBFOM) of the Gordie Howe International Bridge.

The team is led by ACS Infrastructure.  ACS (50%) and Fluor (50%) are the equity members, said a source. Dragados (50%) and Fluor (50%) are the DBJV with ACS (50%) and Fluor (50%) the O&M contractors. 

The project’s financing is “the usual” for this type of deal said the source. Examples of recent large civil projects won by an ACS consortium include the Champlain Bridge (2015) and the LAX APM (2018). Both projects were financed with short-term bank debt and long term bonds. RBC and HSBC were mandated as lead arrangers on the forthcoming bond offering, said a second source close to the situation.

The bank club consists of RBC, HSBC, TD, Desjardin and Mizuho. 

Blakes (legal) and RBC (financial) advised the SPV.  

McCarthy (legal), BTY (technical) and INTECH (Insurance) advised the lenders. 

Aecon originally had an equity and construction position within the Bridging North America consortium, but withdrew from the process. The Canadian constructor exited the process was owing to a takeover attempt by Chinese company CCCI which was perceieved to present a national security concern.    

The announcement was made on 5 July at 9.30am. 

Financial close is expected by end of September said WDBA. The project has a 30-year O&M period.

The two other bidding teams were; 

The selection concludes a somewhat controversial 20-month process since the original RFP was issued in November 2016. This included a six month delay in the deadline for technical and financial proposals last year over concerns about the affordability of the project, This issue would once again surface after all three parties after submitting their final bids earlier this summer were told they would have to rebid as those offers exceeded the affordability threshold set by the DBWA.

In addition, AECON dropping out of the Bridging North America group over the Canadian government review of the China Communications International Holding (CCI) buyout of the company.

As reported, cost estimates have varied for the bridge but the Toronto Globe & Mail has recently reported that costs could be as high as CAD 4.8bn.

Advising the DBWA on the project is Deloitte (financial/transaction), Fasken (legal), Warner Norcross and Judd (legal) and Parsons (general engineering).

Project details
The bridge will connect the cities of Detroit and Windsor through a connection over the Detroit River. The road will connect the I-94 in Michigan with Highway 401 in Ontario. The Canadian government will retain all toll revenue for the project.

Gordie Howe