The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Hrvatske Autoceste (HAC), a state-owned company in charge of the construction, maintenance and tolling of Croatia's motorways, have signed a loan of up to EUR 250 million, the bank announced in a statement on Thursday.
The EBRD's sovereign-guaranteed loan will come in two tranches: EUR 200 million will be used to refinance a portion of HAC's sovereign-guaranteed debt falling due in 2016. The remaining EUR 50 million will finance operational and efficiency improvements and may serve as a basis for preparing the company for private sector participation, subject to the government's future strategic decision.
HAC has established HAC-ONC as a subsidiary in charge of maintenance and tolling of the motorway network, totalling 925 kilometres. The EBRD loan will support the restructuring of the subsidiary, the statement said.
Consultancy services will be provided under the EBRD's Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility in the form of EUR 500,000 in grant funds.
"Croatia has invested heavily in road infrastructure over the last two decades through an extensive investment program. The Bank's new loan is supported by a technical assistance package funded by the Bank's donors to support the development of the company’s restructuring plans. Our loan addresses the sector’s need for long-term finance and the need to improve the efficiency of operations," said Vedrana Jelusic Kasic, EBRD Director for Croatia and Slovenia.
Davor Mihovilic, President of HAC's Management Board, said: "The loan agreement we are signing with the EBRD today is very important to us as it will not only enable HAC to refinance part of its debt but also to implement corporate restructuring, providing a sound basis for our future operations."
The EBRD has been active in Croatia as an investor since the country's independence and has invested some EUR 3.2 billion in more than 183 projects to date. The Bank’s activities include all sectors of the economy, notably the infrastructure, corporate, financial and energy sectors.