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Tianjin Plastics. A case study in international project finance . . Brian Hider Brian Kopan Ernest Lew Juan Villa. October 8, 2008 Cal State Fullerton, MBA Program. Background. Case set in 1996 Chinese economy is growing rapidly Foreign capital needed for infrastructure in China

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tianjin plastics
Tianjin Plastics

A case study in international project finance.

Brian Hider

Brian Kopan

Ernest Lew

Juan Villa

October 8, 2008

Cal State Fullerton, MBA Program

  • Case set in 1996
  • Chinese economy is growing rapidly
  • Foreign capital needed for infrastructure in China
  • Opportunity to fund power plant project in Tianjin province
  • Established in 1984
  • Planned area of 33 sq. km.
  • Divided in 3 sub-areas
  • Land usage restrictions by government of China
  • Original Land Development Financing: 100% Chinese government
  • Goal: become a modern industrial area which is the biggest in Asia and the best in China
  • In 1992, TEDA FDI increased-needed for development
  • New Land Development Financing: combination of China’s government & MNCs.
  • Wholly foreign-owned companies and joint ventures were created to develop of land
  • MNC’s investment in the area has lead to strong economic growth in the TEDA region.
project structure the players
Project Structure: The Players
  • Maple Energy (49% Equity)
    • US Based company, since 1989
    • Subsidiary of Northern States Utility
    • Power plant projects in four countries
    • Specialize in turnkey projects
  • Tianjin Plastics (46% Equity)
    • Government run factory
    • Specialty is energy intensive extrusion process
  • MOPI (5% Equity)
    • Chinese Ministry of Power Industry
  • Wintel
    • Had Rmb that could not be repatriated
project structure fundamentals
Project Structure: Fundamentals
  • Project life-4 year construction, 20 year operation
  • Operating costs fixed, paid in Rmb
  • 20yr contract for free coal feedstock
  • Selling price of energy guaranteed (Rmb)
  • Profits virtually guaranteed as long as debt, equity and final profit are in Rmb
  • Project financed with 85% debt
  • Forecast shows China requiring 21GW of additional power annually for a decade (150 plants of this size)
project finance
Project Finance
  • Definition: the raising of capital to finance an investment project where the capital providers look at the cash flows from the project as the source to:

(1) Service their loans

(2) Provide the return of equity

(3) Provide a return on their investment

project finance characteristics
Project Finance: Characteristics
  • Separate legal entity
    • Separate from investors and MNC
  • Singular focus of business
  • Predictable cash flows from operations
    • Essential to securing project financing from outside partners
  • Finite project life
    • Cash flows go toward servings its capital structure (debt & equity)
exchange rate outlook
Exchange Rate Outlook
  • Chinese Rmb is expected to weaken relative to the US$
    • International Fisher Effect (IFE)
      • Higher expected inflation in China
      • In 2000, Bank of China starts to loosen their hold on currency
    • Interest Rate Parity Theory (IRP)
      • Higher interest rates in China vs. US (13% vs. 8%) on near and long term loans.
      • Forecast 5% depreciation
basic issues
Basic Issues



immediate issues
Immediate Issues



cause effect

Partially convertible Rmb

Lack of hedging options and forecast data

Unpredictability of project profitability

Political instability

Equity repatriation constraints

Lack of EX/IM financing help

decision criteria
Decision Criteria
  • Quantitative:
    • Highest likely NPV
      • Sensitivity to currency exposure
      • Must have positive NPV
    • Shortest payback period
  • Qualitative
    • Overall company growth strategy in TEDA
option 1
Option 1

Maple Energy invests directly with US$

  • Maple leaves US$ in project and can’t pull them out = lose equity investment.
  • Debt obligations are in US$ and will be exposed to exchange rate risk.
  • Currency Exposures:
    • Firm Profitability
      • Dollar based debt (almost 90% of debt)
    • Profit Magnitude
      • Profits converted to dollars
option 2
Option 2

Back-to-Back loans

  • Maple Energy does US$/Rmb loan with another US firm doing business in China, Wintel
  • Currency Exposures:
    • Firm Profitability
      • Dollar based debt (almost 90% of debt)
    • Profit Magnitude
      • Profits converted to dollars
option 2 continued
Option 2 (continued)

Back-to-Back loans

  • Mechanics:
    • Wintel has generated profits in Rmb (can’t repatriate earnings)
    • Wintel loans Rmb70.018 to Maple for 6 years
    • Maple loans $8.415 to Wintel for 6 years
    • Maple: instead of converting their US$ and making the equity investment IN China, Maple BORROWS the Rmb from Wintel for the equity investment
    • Maple pays loan with Rmb from cash flows
    • Wintel pays loan with US$
option 3
Option 3

Have power price paid by Tianjin Plastics indexed to dollar

  • Tianjin has already contracted to purchase most of the power from the plant.
  • This guarantees earnings would maintain their US$ value.
  • Not allowed by MOPI due to concerns over negative impact it might have on their Rmb invested in project.
  • Currency Exposures:
    • Profit Magnitude
      • Profits converted to dollars
option 4
Option 4

Finance majority of project in Rmb (borrow locally)

  • Maple would borrow local Rmb.
  • No US$ exposure since Rmb (not US$) are invested in the project.
  • Large exchange rate risk on profit since all profits are in Rmb and must be converted to US$.
  • Currency Exposures:
    • Profit Magnitude
      • Profits converted to dollars
selected option
Selected Option

Option 2: Back-to-Back loans

Loan of Rmb 70.018m

Maple Energy




Loan of US $8.415m



Maple Energy