January 29, 2013 / 4:00 PM / 5 years ago

Saudi's Maaden eyes finance for $7 billion phosphate plant by yr-end

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabian Mining Company 1211.SE (Maaden) aims to complete the financing for a $7 billion phosphate project by the end of the year, a senior executive at the firm said on Tuesday.

The cash will be used to fund the Umm Wual development at Waad Al-Shimal City in the north of the country, as well as connected infrastructure at Ras Al Khair on the eastern coast of the kingdom, Khalid Al-Rowais, vice president of finance at Maaden, told a conference in Dubai.

While the amount of money to be raised from the market has yet to be finalized, Rowais said government funds, banks - both local and international - as well as export credit agencies (ECAs) would be involved. Issuing an Islamic bond was also a possibility.

“A sukuk is an option but the most important thing is to have the right balance to suit the project,” Rowais said, adding talks were ongoing with its financial adviser on funding plans.

HSBC (HSBA.L) was financial adviser, with Baker & McKenzie its legal adviser, Rowais added on the sidelines of the event.

Two government funds, the Public Investment Fund and the Saudi Industrial Development Fund, as well as ECAs, would be approached in April about funding the project, Rowais said, with invitations to commercial banks expected in July.

The scheme will have a production capacity of 16 million tons per year of phosphate concentrate, sulphuric acid, phosphoric acid, as well as plants to produce calcium monophosphate and calcium diphosphate, Maaden said previously, with phosphate production expected to start in late 2016.

    In December, Maaden signed deals worth 977 million riyals ($260.5 million) with U.S. firms Fluor Corp (FLR.N) and Bechtel to help develop Waad Al-Shimal City.

    Earlier this week, Maaden warned a diammonium phosphate (DAP) fertilizer plant in Ras Al Khair, controlled by a subsidiary, would shut for three weeks, although this would have no impact on its ability to meet its customer obligations.

    This news came days after Maaden posted a forecast-beating 45 percent increase in its fourth-quarter net profit after it began production of ammonia and DAP. [ID:nL6N0AP3H8]

    ($1 = 3.7502 Saudi riyals)

    Reporting by David French; editing by James Jukwey

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