22 June 2015
Watson Farley & Williams (“WFW”) has advised long-time client MSC Cruises (“MSC”) on the €1.2 billion (US$1.35bn), export credit agency (ECA) supported financing of two newbuild ‘Seaside class’ cruise ships, which will be the largest vessels ever built by the Fincantieri shipyard in Trieste, Italy.
The financing for MSC was provided by a syndicate of banks including Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank (“CA-CIB”), BNP Paribas, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti S.P.A., HSBC France, Banco Santander S.A and Unicredit S.P.A. as mandated lead arrangers and underwriters. CA-CIB also served as structuring agent and bookrunner. The financing was supported by Italian export credit agency Servizi Assicurativi del Commercio Estero (“SACE”).
MSC Seaside, the very first of the new Seaside class vessels, is scheduled to be delivered in November 2017 and will be the first ever MSC ship to be christened in the US. It will sail from Miami to the Caribbean year-round. The second vessel will be delivered in May 2018.
MSC is the largest cruise operator in the Mediterranean and fourth largest in the world. The Seaside class vessels are part of the company’s €5.1bn) fleet expansion plan that will allow the company to double its capacity by 2022. WFW has previously advised MSC on the €1.2bn loan facility to purchase two newbuild ‘Vista class’ vessels, and also advised on its currently ongoing ‘Renaissance Programme’, which will eventually see four of its existing cruise ships lengthened and refurbished.
The WFW team was led by London partner and WFW Head of Maritime Lindsey Keeble, assisted by senior associate Kate Silverstein.
Partner Lindsey Keeble said: “MSC’s acquisition of the first of the Seaside class vessels is another notable step in its exciting expansion plans. MSC’s ambitions not only reflect the success of its own business, but are a vote of confidence in the wider cruise industry and are exciting for WFW to be involved in as well.”