CSFB loses contract to advise on US $3.5bn gas project

Adding to an already waning presence in its Middle East operations, Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB), lost a contract to help arrange financing for the UAE’s US $3.5 billion Dolphin project

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By  Massoud Derhally Published  May 28, 2002

Adding to an already waning presence in its Middle East operations, Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB), lost a contract to help arrange financing for the UAE’s US $3.5 billion Dolphin project, reported Bloomberg on Monday.

The new development comes on the heels of CSFB’s decision to exit retail online brokerage businesses around the world, including its Dubai operation (CSFBdirect-eUnion), and focus on its core businesses including investment banking.

A CSFB spokeswoman in a statement said the bank and Dolphin parted because of differences of opinion over how to finance the venture. Cost cutting at the bank “in no way'” reduced Credit Suisse's commitment to the project, said the spokeswoman. CSFB is advising on another UAE project, the partial sale and upgrade of Umm al-Nar power and water desalination station, which will cost as much as US $1.9 billion.

Michael Powell, head of project finance at CSFB for Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told Bloomberg that one of the four CSFB bankers on the project was laid off in April. A spokesman for the project, Dolphin Energy Ltd., said the departures contributed to the split.

Finding a new adviser ``may delay (the project) a bit, but not stop it,'' said Muhammad-Ali Zainy, a senior energy analyst with the London-based Centre for Global Energy Studies. ``A financial adviser can be replaced.''

Dolphin, a government partnership with Paris-based Total Fina Elf SA, is currently in talks to sell Occidental Petroleum Corp. of the U.S. a stake in the venture. The group will review financing plans after reaching an agreement with Occidental, expected in the first week of June, a Dolphin spokesman told Bloomberg. This may include seeking a new financial adviser. The company wants the financing in place by next April.

BNP Paribas SA, France's largest bank, and Deutsche Bank AG are interested in bidding to take over CSFB's role on Dolphin, bank officials told Bloomberg.

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