Bird & Bird advises EBRD in supporting Morocco's tourism sector


Bird & Bird announces that an international team from both its London and Paris offices has been advising the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in its €10 million investment in Alliances Hotel Investment SA, a subsidiary of Alliances Group, for the construction and operation of up to four hotels in Morocco.

Tourism is the country's top foreign currency provider and is a driving force behind Morocco's recent economic growth and a major tool for social and regional development. While well developed, the tourism sector has so far been offering mainly either 5-star luxury accommodation or small family hotels. Alliances want to fill this gap with 3- and 4-star hotels providing service in line with international standards. The hotels will be managed by international operators under management contracts.

The first two hotels will be developed in Casablanca and Marrakech, while the other hotels will be developed in other cities such as Tangier, Rabat or Oujda.

Bird & Bird assisted EBRD in negotiating and documenting the arrangements providing for a framework for EBRD to co-invest with Alliances in a special purpose holding company that would invest in special purpose vehicles created to undertake one of four hotel projects (two of which are defined and two of which will be defined under the framework).

As well as the usual complications of a framework that needs to be flexible enough to allow projects to be defined in the future, there is a standby equity facility. The overall package of documentation required considerable input on French law and Moroccan law.

Andrew Hallgarth, partner, Bird & Bird commented: "Africa is a growing focus area for our clients and the firm, so we were delighted to assist EBRD with this exciting investment as part of EBRD's growing North African portfolio."

Philippe Mansion, Operation Leader, EBRD said: "Bird & Bird's expertise and ability to help us with the international complexity of this deal made them a natural fit to assist us. We have been extremely pleased with the quality and depth of advice the team provided to us." The team from Bird & Bird's London office was comprised of Andrew Hallgarth and Oliver Irons with the team from Bird & Bird's Paris office comprised of Gildas Louvel and Camille Jaegle. Bird & Bird was assisted in Morocco by Nadia Kettani of Kettani Law Firm.

Alliances was advised by Jeantet & Associés and its in-house team.