Vinson & Elkins reinforces project finance capabilities with new hire

06 February 2019 - 12:00 am UTC

US law firm Vinson & Elkins (V&E) has hired Eamon Nolan from Linklaters to work in their Energy, Transactions and Projects group.

Nolan, who will be based in New York, told Inframation that while his career to date has largely been focused on energy project financing in Latin America, he has done a significant amount of telecommunications and infrastructure work too and his new position will see him working on opportunities in North America. 

In the US, he sees that there are some very good renewables platforms that are up for turnover and the fund cycle is reaching its end for some platforms, so there are some assets up for sale. 

Nolan is seeing some midstream opportunities, which is one of V&E’s strengths, and believes there’s a lot going on in the oil and gas sector, but he’s also done a lot in the renewables sector and hopes for more of that. 

Nolan has worked on major transactions such as the financing of the Pirapora solar complex in Brazil alongside sponsors EDF and Canadian Solar, Macquarie’s acquisition and financing of almost 700MW of wind and solar assets in Mexico, the financing of the acquisition of GasValpo in Chile and the USD 1.7bn Red Compartida project in Mexico that closed in early 2017. 

Nolan is hesitant to make predictions about Mexico as he says anyone who tells you they know for certain what’s going to happen in Mexico is not being honest.  

“The airport cancelation (NAIM) has got some investors jittery in the infrastructure space. It’s different for different sectors and across the country, but we have heard that some investors who like to dabble have put Mexico on pause, while more seasoned investors are proceeding apace,” he said. 

“AMLO was pretty vocal in the lead up to the elections that people are sick of corruption and want to see action. At some point we could see a high-profile scalp and he’ll have to deliver something for his base, so investors are very cautious about where they put their money,” he added. 

Nolan believes that the energy sector will remain active in Mexico, despite the recently announced cancelation of the fourth renewable energy auction, and he says there is an eagerness to finance merchant risk projects in the country. 

“Electricity prices are going up, I’m doing a transaction that has full merchant risk and there’s a possibility to finance on a merchant basis and then incorporate PPAs later,” he said. 

Nolan also believes the country will see activity on the sellside as there will be assets for sale where funds are coming to an end. “The cycle of private equity ownership is coming to an end for some vehicles and we’re looking around for brownfield assets that were developed in the last decade. Some clients have said they’ve got their checkbooks out and others have assets to move on.”   

 

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