Michelmores has advised the Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation (Finnfund) and the Norwegian Fund for Developing Countries (Norfund) on their respective debt investments of $3,850,000 into Nam Sim Power Company Limited (Nam Sim), a hydropower company that owns and operates hydropower projects in the Laos People’s Democratic Republic (Laos). The Michelmores team comprised Partner Joe Whitfield and Solicitor Harry Trick.
Finnfund and Norfund are development finance institutions owned by the Finnish and Norwegian governments respectively, with the aim of combatting poverty through private sector development. As at year-end 2013, Finnfund and Norfund had a combined portfolio of nearly $2 billion.
The investment into Laos is intended to fund the construction of the Nam Sim hydropower plant on the bank of Nam Sim River in Huaphan Province, Laos. The proposed project is a run-of-river plant with an installed capacity of around 9 MW generating approximately 32 GWh in an average hydrological year.
Whilst Laos is currently among Asia’s poorest countries, it has big ambitions to become the “Battery of Southeast Asia“, and this project comes at a time when Laos is intending to quadruple its hydropower generation capacity by the end of the decade and to step up electricity exports to its neighbouring countries (most particularly Thailand, Vietnam and China). The World Bank views hydropower as a means for economic development without adding substantial amounts of carbon to the atmosphere.
Joe Whitfield, head of the Michelmores’ Emerging Markets team and with over 25 years’ experience advising on investments in frontier markets, commented:
“We are delighted to have been able to assist Finnfund and Norfund on this important investment into one of the world’s poorest countries. By making this investment, Finnfund and Norfund will make an invaluable contribution to Laos; both by increasing the supply of reliable power to the country and the surrounding region, and by providing funds to an industry which can help grow its economy in a sustainable way”.