WFW advises on NCLH and MSC cruise vessels’ financing

2024-04-29T17:01:33+00:00 April 29th, 2024|Finance|

Watson Farley & Williams (WFW) has advised Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank (CACIB) as agent, SACE and a syndicate of nine banks on pre and post-delivery loan facilities granted to Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) for the acquisition of four cruise vessels currently under construction at Fincantieri.

The loan facilities are backed by Italian export credit agency SACE.

Scheduled to be delivered by 2029, the four vessels form part of the most significant expansion of NCLH’s cruise fleet across its various brands and are expected to advance NCLH’s journey towards de-carbonisation.

These new ship orders are expected to create a new class of vessels within their respective lines. NCLH’s Oceania Cruises brand is set to deliver two 86,000 gt ships, both with a capacity of 1,450 pax, while the other two 77,000 gt vessels will be joining the Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet and will each be able to house 850 pax.

CACIB is a private commercial bank involved in shipping, real estate, renewables and infrastructure sectors, both in France and internationally.

With a combined fleet of 32 ships offering around 66,500 berths, NCLH offers itineraries to approximately 700 destinations worldwide. The group expects to add another 13 ships across its three brands through 2036, which will add about 41,000 berths to its fleet.

The cross-border multi-disciplinary WFW team that advised the lenders and SACE, was led by Finance Partners, Alexia Russell (Paris) (pictured) and Mario D’Ovidio (Milan).

They were assisted by Associates Parit Patani (London), Isabella Roberts (Paris), Jihanne Flegeau-Kihal (Paris), Amelia Garavaglia (Milan), Giulia Chiarvesio (Milan), and Trainees Francois Hickel (Paris), James Fitzjohn (Paris) and Marta Lomuscio (Milan).

They were also supported by Partners Daniel Pilarski (New York) and Richard Stephens (London) on the transactions sanctions and tax matters, and by Senior Associate, Alfredo Guacci Esposito (Milan) on Italian tax aspects.

Russell commented: “We are delighted to have been instructed by our long-term clients on this major financing for four next-generation cruise ships representing a milestone for NCLH. Our team was able to bring both cross-border experience and unrivalled maritime sector expertise to the table to ensure the transaction closed smoothly for our clients.”

D’Ovidio added: “We are pleased to have advised our clients on this ground-breaking financing for the European cruise industry and NCLH’s de-carbonisation agenda, that is also significant for the Italian economy.

“This instruction reaffirms WFW’s commitment to promoting sustainable finance in the cruise sector,” he said.

A team from Conyers led by Victor Richards and Joshua DeAllie advised the lenders and SACE on local law matters, while Hannaford Turner advised NCLH.

WFW also advised MSC Cruises (MSC) on the financing for two new LNG-powered cruise ships from French ship builder. Chantiers de l’Atlantique.

The vessels, ’World Class 3’ and ’World Class 4’, are expected to be delivered in 2026 and 2027. respectively.

The financing was provided by a syndicate of lenders led by Banco Santander with ECA support from Bpifrance Export Assurance.

WFW’s London Assets and Structured Finance team that advised MSC was led by Partner, Emily Widdrington, supported by Senior Associate, John Man and Associate, Lottie Lymer.

Widdrington commented: “We are delighted to have been able to advise long-standing client MSC on successfully financing these new additions to their fleet, which will play a key role in their de-carbonisation plans to achieve net-zero by 2050.”