Bird & Bird advises on €100 million funding to support Albanian telecoms privatisation

13 juin 2008

International law firm Bird & Bird has advised the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Albania’s largest institutional investor, and the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB), a new client of the firm, on their combined €100 million financing for Albtelecom Sh. A. - Albania’s largest fixed line telecoms operator which closed this week.

The debt financing package for Albtelecom consists of an A loan portion of €30 million for the EBRD’s own account and a B loan portion of €45 million to be funded by commercial banks (for which portion the joint mandated lead arrangers are UniCredit Markets & Investment Banking (Bank Austria Creditanstalt AG), Raiffeisen Zentralbank österreich AG (RZB) and Standard Bank Plc). In parallel to the ERBD facility, an additional €25 million will be provided by BSTDB.

Established in 1912 as a state-owned telecoms and postal services company in Albania, Albtelecom was privatised in 2007 and is currently the dominant fixed-line operator in the country.

Following the investment, Albtelecom will be able to offer new and better-quality services to its customers in Albania through upgrades and expansions to the existing fixed-line network infrastructure; the building by its subsidiary, Eagle Mobile, of a new mobile GSM network; and development of new broadband and data services.

The Bird & Bird Team was led by Andrew Hallgarth, assisted by Banking & Finance associates Oliver Irons and Chris Healy. They worked closely with Albanian law firm, Boga & Associates. Yüksel Küçük Karkın Law Firm (Turkey) and Zaka, Kosta & Tashko Law Firm (Albania) represented Albtelecom and the equity investors, Calik Group and Turk Telecom.

The deal builds on Bird & Bird’s substantial telecoms and privatisation experience gained in Central and Eastern Europe over the past 14 years. Examples of previous experience include: EBRD’s financing for the privatisation of BTC, the Bulgarian national telecoms company; advising Bank Austria Creditanstalt A.G., Citibank, N.A., EFG Eurobank and ING Bank in connection with the refinancing and mobile network roll out for BTC; privatisation of energy and steel facilities in FYR Macedonia; and project financing for media and telecoms networks in Hungary.

-Ends-

For more information please contact:

Derek Gilmour or Ben Girdlestone

Tel: +44(0)20 7415 6079 or +44(0)20 7982 6470

Email: derek.gilmour@twobirds.com or ben.girdlestone@twobirds.com

Notes to Editors

About Bird & Bird

Bird & Bird is a full service international commercial law firm with offices in Beijing, Brussels, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, The Hague, Helsinki, Hong Kong, London, Lyon, Madrid, Milan, Munich, Paris, Rome and Stockholm.

For more information on Bird & Bird please go to www.twobirds.com