On November 18, 2011, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg announced that the Norwegian government intends to establish a state-funded scheme for export credit financing for the Norwegian export industry. The scheme will assume responsibility for the export financing for projects that qualify under the OECD Arrangement on Export Credits (CIRR qualifying contract financing) previously managed by Eksportfinans ASA (“Eksportfinans”), including the state-supported export financing scheme offering the OECD Commercial Interest Reference Rate (“CIRR”).
The purpose of this information memorandum is to address the most frequently asked questions regarding the new export financing scheme in Norway.
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How will the scheme become operational?
According to the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry (“MTI”) a state entity, that will assume responsibility for CIRR-qualifying loans, will be in operation at the latest by July 1, 2012.
Until July 1 2012 (interim period) The Norwegian government has asked Eksportfinans, and Eksportfinans has agreed, to manage the export financing scheme on their behalf until the state entity is in place. Eksportfinans will disburse and administer new loans on behalf of the Norwegian state. The State will be the lender and counterparty to the loan agreements.
What happens to Eksportfinans’ lending activity?
Eksportfinans will not issue new loan offers or execute new disbursements in its own name as of November 18, 2011, with the exception of those lending activities to which the company is legally committed.
In accordance with an understanding with the Norwegian government, Eksportfinans has executed loan disbursements in accordance with its legal commitments and in its own name from 18 November 2011 until the interim lending scheme was operational. Subject to receipt of necessary approvals, these loans will in turn be transferred to the Norwegian State, represented by MTI. Subsequently the loans will be transferred to the new state entity.
What happens with Eksportfinans’ existing lending portfolio?
Loans that were fully disbursed prior to 18 November 2011 will not be transferred and will remain with Eksportfinans for the entire repayment period.
Eksportfinans will continue to manage its portfolio of existing loans until final maturity for each individual loan in the years to come.
For practical reasons some loans that were executed after November 18 2011 will remain with Eksportfinans.
What happens with loans with part disbursements both before and after November 18, 2011?
For CIRR-qualifying loans that have been partially disbursed before November 18, 2011, the entire loans (including part disbursements made before November 18, 2011) are likely to be transferred to the Norwegian State represented by MTI. These loans will be transferred on to the new state entity as soon as it is operational.
Will the Norwegian state be involved in the lending transactions before July 1, 2012?
During the interim period Eksportfinans has been provided with a mandate to negotiate loan agreements on behalf of MTI as lender. Such negotiations shall be based on principles and routines practiced by Eksportfinans in the past.
Loan agreements and other loan documentation shall be approved by MTI prior to execution. Eksportfinans shall forward the loan documentation in agreed form to MTI prior to signing for MTI’s review and comments. Upon completion of negotiations of the loan documentation MTI shall forward a written notification to Eksportfinans confirming that the loan documentation can be signed. Subject to receipt of such written notification, Eksportfinans will be authorized to execute the loan documentation on behalf of MTI as lender.
Which loan products will be available going forward?
CIRR qualifying contract financing will be available. Financing is available in the same currencies, tenors and repayment structures as under the CIRR scheme before November 18, 2011.
Which existing loan products will be discontinued going forward?
The loan products termed corporate loans, project loans, bank cooperation loans and non CIRR qualifying contract financing will not be available under the new public sector export financing scheme.
What interest rates will be available going forward?
For CIRR-qualifying loans both CIRR interest rates and market term interest rates will be available. Loans on market terms shall be priced on commercial terms according to the prevailing market conditions. Furthermore, said market terms must be in accordance with ESA’s reference interest rate guidelines.
Will there be any statutory limitations to loan amounts going forward?
The new state entity is not expected to be subject to the EU Capital Requirement Directive comprising regulations on large exposures to a single client.
Are the CIRR offers issued by Eksportfinans ASA still valid?
CIRR offers issued by Eksportfinans ASA will remain unaltered, according to the company’s former practice.
What about the renewal of the loan margins on existing loans?
This will be handled by Eksportfinans on behalf of MTI until July 1, 2012, and by the new state entity thereafter.
What happens with pending loan applications?
Eksportfinans on behalf of MTI will respond to and manage pending applications.
Will there still be requirements for loan guarantees?
Both MTI and the new state entity will maintain the same risk profile as Eksportfinans ASA. This means that eligible guarantors, i.e. GIEK and/or commercial banks, at all times will be required to have an investment grade credit rating.
How will waiver request be handled?
Waiver request shall be submitted to Eksportfinans, which will manage such requests on behalf of MTI.
With whom will clients communicate going forward?
Clients are welcome to communicate with the same people in Eksportfinans as before. Eksportfinans will handle existing and new client relationships and project management in the interim period. The company shall receive and handle new loan applications submitted in this period and be responsible for the loan assessment and approval processes, in close liaison with MTI, until July 1, 2012.