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A Day in the Life: project financier Back  
S?ona Meghen recently joined the project finance team of IIB Bank as associate director, where she oversees projects across a number of sectors including energy and waste; Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects in areas such as roads, social housing and health; and leveraged deals.
06.30 While I often manage to drag myself to the gym before work in the spring and summer months, it certainly doesn’t feel like an appealing prospect this dark January morning. I decide that such cruel and unusual punishment is not merited and vow to make that spinning class at 7.30 this evening…
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Síona Meghen, Project Financier, IIB

07.30 At this time in the morning it takes less than 20 minutes to arrive at our new offices in Sandwith Street. The bank moved to new headquarters on the site of the former Archers Garage last October, just days before I took up my new role, and feedback from everyone on the bright, airy new accommodation has been very positive.

I really enjoy reading the papers over breakfast, but the length of my ‘To Do’ list and the day’s schedule determine how long I can linger over them.

I find this is a great time to get through tasks which tend to get ‘de-prioritised’ during the course of the day when the phone is ringing and meetings are scheduled at short notice.

This morning I finish planning for a marketing event with a key intermediary which is taking place next week. Intermediaries are an important source of deal flow in the project and leveraged finance sectors and we maintain close contact with all key advisers.

09.00 Team meeting to discuss deals in the pipeline and proposals going before our credit committee this week. The team has responsibility for project and leveraged finance, so there is usually plenty to discuss with Christine Moran, head of corporate banking.

One potential Public Private Partnership (PPP) deal in the accommodation sector looks interesting and we arrange a meeting with Michael Gilmartin, who heads up IIB Bank’s property banking division.

We work together on such deals in order to deliver an integrated, full-service offering to clients which enhances the competitiveness of their bids.

10.30 I head down to the IFSC to meet with colleagues in sister company KBC Project Finance to discuss developments on one of the roads PPP projects on which we are supporting one of the short-listed consortia.
The PPP approach to the development of infrastructure in Ireland offers exciting new opportunities, although there has been some frustration in the marketplace at the pace of deal flow.

Together, KBC Project Finance, which is headquartered in Dublin, and IIB Bank have been involved in most of the significant project finance transactions in Ireland over the past number of years including the Fermoy Bypass and Dundalk Bypass PPP contracts and the Tynagh Energy CCGT gas plant in Co. Galway, all of which reached financial close in 2004.

The rest of the morning is taken up working with team members on a refinancing deal for a significant existing client. High market liquidity has been eroding both margin and commitment fees, so it is likely to be priced very competitively. We place a conference call to KBC’s Syndicated and Debt Placement (SDP) division to discuss pricing trends across Europe. This team, based in London, has worldwide reach covering origination, primary distribution, execution and secondary trading. We have worked successfully with the SDP team on a number of very significant transactions, including acting as the MLA on the recently completed €300 million Kingspan refinancing. Good news from our credit committee, we have received approval to participate in a very significant leveraged buyout. This is a good start to the year for the leveraged team. Activity in the LBO market in the first weeks of 2005 has been very positive and the outlook for the year ahead is generally perceived to be good.

12.30 Meet former colleagues (current friends!) from Andersen for lunch to catch up and offer mutual support for the post-Christmas blues.

14.00 I head out with another member of the team to meet an infrastructure client that is considering making a strategic acquisition and wants to discuss financing options (on balance sheet and on a non-recourse basis). The meeting goes well and we agree to work up a proposal for them.

15.30 Back at the office I make a quick call to Aidan Doherty in our Belfast office to finalise arrangements for a visit next week to meet up with a number of clients and intermediaries. There is a lot of opportunity in the North, particularly in the PPP sector, and having a presence on the ground is a significant advantage.

I finalise a presentation I am giving later in the week on public private partnerships and respond to a number of emails.

16.00 I check with a colleague on progress on a 15MW wind farm deal, which is due to close today. There has been a significant amount of activity in this area over the last couple of years and the pipeline for 2005 is very strong. IIB Bank, with sister company KBC Project Finance, is Ireland’s leading wind farm financier, and has financed projects across the country, including the largest wind farm project operating in the island of Ireland to date – the Altahullion wind farm in Co. Derry.

It appears that all the documentation is in place so we head out to the offices of our legal advisers to complete. In spite of some last minute hiccups all of the documentation and CPs are in place and the deal is done.

18.45 We drop back into the office where I file away (most!) of the files and documents which have accumulated on my desk over the course of the day (the joys of a clean desk policy) and head for home. I miss most of the rush hour traffic and it looks likely that I will make to the gym in time for that class… although with recent press about the benefits of red wine and dark chocolate, perhaps it would be healthier to give it a skip and head home to indulge…

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