ABS Could be on its Way to Wembley


The new Wembley stadium - the centerpiece of England's bid to host the 2006 soccer World Cup - may be funded in part by a securitization. Investec, the investment bank, is advising Wembley National Stadium on how best to fund the GBP355 million ($574 million) needed to complete the redevelopment. The total cost is expected to be GBP475m, with GBP120m of that sum to be provided by public lottery funds from Sport England.

Andrew Neill of the specialised finance division at Investec says that securitisation is "certainly one of the options that will be explored. Our aim is that we should be deciding on the type of funding by March 31, 2000, with the redevelopment starting by next summer."

Investec will invite financing proposals from lending banks, traditional bond houses, and securitisation arrangers and hopes to begin discussions in the fall.

If a securitization is viable, a deal will be backed by contracts for future sporting events held at the stadium. The 2006 World Cup and the Olympic Games, which are not confirmed events, will not figure in such a transaction.

The value of contracted revenues have not yet been finalized, but Neill says that the full business and financing plan will be worked out over the next month or two. "How one slices and dices the revenues and the funding of the project has yet to be determined ... which revenues are used to back which particular instruments is part of the process of fine tuning," he said.