SocGen sets up Aussie infrastructure advisory

The French bank has identified infrastructure finance as a growth area for the franchise and reckons the advisory will complement existing resources and energy teams in Sydney.
Marie Vinnell
Marie Vinnell

Societe Generale has set up a team to advise on infrastructure projects in Australia, naming Marie Vinnell as the director of the unit, the French bank said in a statement on Tuesday.

The advisory is intended to "strengthen services on infrastructure projects in the Australian market," the bank said.

Vinnell was a director at Westpac until August of this year, according to her LinkedIn profile. But the new directorship marks something of a homecoming for Vinnell who was a SocGen vice president for infrastructure project finance for eight years starting in 2001, the profile said. 

SocGen said Vinnell previously worked for the bank on project finance activities "specialising in the infrastructure sector in Sydney, London, and New York."

SocGen said her appointment as director is effective Tuesday, October 6. She will be based in Sydney and report to Gavin Munro, head of infrastructure finance for Asia Pacific.

Vinnell's remit is to "grow (the bank's) infrastructure financial advisory business in Australia," where the government is prioritising infrastructure development and where there is a good flow of infrastructure privatisations and public-private partnership projects, the statement said.

Opportunities will no doubt abound as the country's $5 billion Asset Recycling Initiative sees infrastructure assets put up for sale. The initiative provides an incentive payment to states for asset sale proceeds which are reinvested into productive infrastructure.

While a number of infrastructure assets were taken off the market after an election in Queensland, the pipeline of available assets across remaining state markets remains strong, FinanceAsia previously reported.

So far this year SocGen has participated in six project finance deals in Australia with a total transaction value of roughly $4.3 billion, according to data provider Dealogic.

The project financing deals were for Hornsdale Wind Farm, Cowal Gold Mine, Apach Australia Oil and Gas, Sydney Light Rail, Roy Hill and New Royal Adelaide Hospital, Dealogic said.

The bank is also active in infrastructure finance elsewhere in Asia.

Commenting on port project finance in Indonesia earlier this year, Munro said most strategic ports are likely to be financed either in special purpose vehicles or on the balance sheets of the respective state-owned port company.

"There will be strong appetite for well-structured US dollar-denominated funding for essential infrastructure assets from the major international project finance banks and key regional players," Munro told FinanceAsia in February, in reference to Indonesia's port projects.

Vinnell will be supported by Robert Ogden who will transfer to Sydney from Hong Kong, SocGen said, noting Ogden joined Societe Generale’s infrastructure finance team in London in 2006, transferring to Hong Kong in 2010.

Societe Generale entered Australia's project finance sector in 1982.

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