BESIX – Plenary consortium achieves financial close on Abu Dhabi school PPP project

The financial close of the Zayed City Schools public private partnership (PPP) has been announced by the N.V. BESIX S.A. Sharjah Branch (“BESIX”) – Plenary Group (“Plenary”) consortium. The project was awarded to the consortium by the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK).

The PPP is said to be the UAE’s first in the field of school infrastructure, and is billed as a pioneering project that’s paving the way for private sector participation in the development of the country’s social infrastructure.

The PPP project covers the financing, design, procurement, construction, commissioning, and 20-year operations and maintenance of three new state-of-the-art school campuses with a total capacity of 5,360 students in Zayed City, Abu Dhabi.

In June 2022, Omnix and Abu Dhabi Municipality announced they had collaborated to push a mandate relating to infrastructure projects in the emirate.

“BESIX is extremely proud to partner with the Abu Dhabi Government to develop and implement this pathfinder PPP project. We are providing campuses with specialist expertise to support the project from start to finish, in terms of financing, engineering, construction, and long-term maintenance. In Plenary Group we have found a world-class partner to develop and deliver this project. We look forward to the next steps and would like to thank ADIO and ADEK, as well as the leading international financial institutions and advisors that are supporting us, for their confidence and commitment to ensure the success of the project,” said Peter Lembrechts, General Manager, BESIX Middle East.

The debt provider group comprises financial institutions HSBC, Intesa Sanpaolo and The Norinchukin Bank. They provide senior debt financing with a long-term maturity, BESIX explained.

The project covers a greenfield plot for each of the three new schools across Zayed City, a 4,900ha project being built seven kilometres inland from Abu Dhabi Island, between Mohamed Bin Zayed City and the Abu Dhabi International Airport.

Paul Crowe, Chief Investment Officer, Plenary Group added, “This is an important milestone in the exciting growth phase of the Plenary business, and we are pleased to be collaborating with BESIX – who we have previously partnered with in Australia – ADIO and ADEK to deliver this fantastic project. The strength of our PPP project development experience in Asia Pacific and North America has presented opportunities for us to export our skillset to other regions adopting a private partnership model. We commend the Abu Dhabi Government on its impressive program of infrastructure development and investment and its acknowledgment that private sector capital can support its ambitions to deliver infrastructure vital for social and economic growth. We look forward to delivering this exciting project and future opportunities in the region.”

According to a statement, the campus buildings will have a dual priority of academic excellence and high environmental performance. They will feature state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, allowing for world-class education.

The buildings will be designed and built with high sustainability objectives, complying with Estidama Pearl 2. The buildings will be low-energy buildings with a focus on usage and consumptions efficiency, and the partners will give priority to the use of locally produced building materials, BESIX concluded.

In July, Al-Futtaim Group Real Estate partners with Deira International School to transform hoarding fences into artwork, while later in the month, it was announced that the FM services contract for a PPP schools project in Saudi Arabia was awarded to SNC-Lavalin.

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