French Banks Dominate the Post-Credit Crunch Infrastructure Project Finance Market

Shanghai, China, February 17, 2010 --( BNP Paribas has emerged as the leading project finance lender over the past 15 years. As a banking group, BNP Paribas lent the largest cumulative amount in the 1995-2009 period, according to new benchmarking research from Infrastructure Economics (

French banks are now at the forefront of the project finance market, with all three top private infrastructure lenders in 2009 based there. The market share of continental European banks has been increasing steadily over the last decade whether measured by deal flow (amounts closed) or actual lending but it received a further boost in the credit crisis when weaker players dropped out. Meanwhile the market share of Wall Street banks, the pioneers of project finance, has dwindled, the Project Finance Benchmarking Report 1995-2009 shows.

“Seven of the top 20 arrangers* lent more to projects in 2009 than they did in 2007,” says Frederic Blanc-Brude, the report’s lead author. “They are also keeping more of this debt on their books because of the disruption in the syndication market.”

The credit crisis has left a clearly segmented market for project finance, with a handful of global players active across all sectors and regions and large numbers of smaller banks operating at the local level. Although some of these have now exited with the credit cycle, this looks like a temporary setback in a strong long-term trend towards more local finance players.

Despite the crisis, infrastructure project financing did not stop growing after 2007. In Europe, the region hit hardest last year, volumes arranged fell by almost 50%. Yet 2009 was still the third highest year for project finance lending in the region in the past 15 years.

Emerging market infrastructure finance, meanwhile, has grown rapidly. South-East Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East-North Africa region all saw significant annual increases in activity in 2008 and 2009. India, Brazil and Indonesia were particularly strong performers. “Infrastructure lenders are being drawn to emerging markets by higher returns and a big emphasis on infrastructure in economic stimulus packages,” says co-author Olivia Jensen.

“Those banks that have developed a truly global presence adapted to the recent eastward shift in demand very fast and are still doing well if not better than before from project finance.” Spreads and all fee types more than doubled between 2007 and 2009, as the report documents in detail.

The report’s findings are based on aggregated data on more than 4,700 project finance projects and more than 15,000 transactions between January 1995 and December 2009, including detailed information about arrangers, spreads, fees, project ratios and instrument characteristics year by year.

* by cumulative deal flow over 15 years.

About the Project Finance Benchmarking Report 1995-2009
The Project Finance Benchmarking Report (1995-2009) is published by Infrastructure Economics. The report provides 15 years of data covering 6 sector groups, 23 sectors, 10 regions, 132 countries, 9 types of financial instrument and over 700 banks from January 1995 to December 2009 in more than 550 pages of tables and figures. The report lists project finance activity for the top 100 arrangers by cumulative deal flow and lending by country, region, sector groups and sectors. It is a unique reference document for any infrastructure finance practitioner in the private or public sector.

If you are interested in more information on this report, please send an e-mail to Alison Wang ( with your full name, company, title, telephone number and e-mail address or visit the Infrastructure Economics website to download sample pages and purchase the report (

Infrastructure Economics
Olivia Jensen
+44 20 8123 0252