The Puerto Rico Public Private Partnerships Authority will pull together a team of advisers to assist it in implementing P3 transactions and releasing requests for proposals related to specific assets.
That’s according to Fernando Batlle, executive vice president of financing and treasury at the Government Development Bank for Puerto Rico.
Friday was the deadline to submit qualifications for various advisory services to evaluate desirability and need of certain projects, offer tax and accounting advice, risk and funding analysis, P3 deal structuring, and legal assistance, among other issues.
Puerto Rico is seeking to enter into concession agreements on existing structures — such as highways, airports, and seaports — and new or greenfield infrastructure developments. Along with new legislation that created the P3 authority and provides a blueprint for public-private transactions on the island, the GDB and the authority held a two-day conference last month to highlight such opportunities for investors.
Batlle said officials are aware of current limitations in the credit markets.
“The credit availability is not the same credit availability that was out there three years ago, we’re very conscious of that,” Batlle said. “But I think that there’s still people that have interest in particular assets and they are interested in doing business in jurisdictions that are open to these kinds of transactions. And in that context, I think when you look at Puerto Rico, it’s uniquely positioned to capture some of those investment dollars that could go somewhere else, but given the structure we’ve put in place, they feel comfortable doing business here.”
That structure includes both the legislative blueprint and also the Puerto Rico Industrial, Tourist, Educational, Medical and Environmental Control Financing Authority, known by its Spanish acronymn AFICA. It could help P3 investors access Puerto Rico’s local market for credit.
“The way we see AFICA, it is a complementary vehicle or complementary source of financing to other sources of financing in the project finance arena,” Batlle said. “It is not the solution to our problems, it is not the panacea for financing; it is just one more tool that Puerto Rico has and I think it makes Puerto Rico an attractive place to do business, from that perspective.”