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Friday, 18th September 2020
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Conference Centre Dublin project involves creative funding back
The first PPP project for Ireland's Office of Public Works has a number of innovative features including a mechanism to ensure that the facility delivers on its promise of attracting international visitors to Dublin, and a sharing of third party revenue risk.
The winner of the FINANCE Funding Facility Deal of the Year was the €350 million facility for the PPP National Conference Centre (now known as The Conference Centre, Dublin). The project involves procurement of a landmark National Conference Centre in the Dublin Docklands by way of PPP. This is the first PPP project for the Office of Public Works, acting on behalf of the Department of Arts Sport and Tourism. With facilities for up to 8,000 delegates and expected generation of between €25m and €50m in foreign revenue earnings for Ireland annually, this is a landmark infrastructural project for the State.

The project structure had a number of innovative features including, in particular, a mechanism to ensure that the facility delivered on its promise of attracting international visitors to Dublin, and a sharing of third party revenue risk. On 28 February 2008, the deal was awarded 'PPP Deal of the Year' by the international publication 'Infrastructure Journal' and has also been awarded the '2007 European Leisure Deal of the Year' from Project Finance Magazine announced in March 2008.
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The National Conference Centre transaction is a public private partnership transaction under which Spencer Dock Convention Centre Dublin Limited (SDCCDL) has agreed to design, build, finance and operate a national conference centre for a concession period of 25 years after commencement of operations. The benefits to SDCCDL are receipt of unitary payments for the life of the concession period.

In terms of timings involved in the deal SDCCL is obliged to have the conference centre built and available for conferences by the date which is 40 months after the date on which the concession contract became effective (subject to certain limited extensions of time).

The advisers included McCann FitzGerald, Arthur Cox, Ashurst, A&L Goodbody, and KPMG Corporate Finance. Arthur Cox acted for both the sponsors and the funders on a dual mandate basis for this project. The total project cost was €300 million, with approximately €265 million of debt.

The structure involves the construction of an underground car park beneath the conference centre site as a separate construction and funding package which was not part of the PPP concession.

Cox were required to find a funding solution which would enable a subgroup of the Senior Lenders to provide facilities to fund the car park on a stand alone but subordinated basis to the funding for the NCC Project.
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