Chinese bank approves $42.5m loan for Enugu HELIU project                                             

From Chidi Nnadi and Aloysius Madu, Enugu

China’s biggest bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), has approved a loan of $42.5 million under the guarantee of the Chinese Credit Insurance Corporation (SINOSURE) for FIT Consult, the developer of the ambitious HELIU project in Enugu State.

The loan, which would be guaranteed locally by Access Bank Plc, would be for the construction of duplexes, electricity, roads, water and other ancillary facilities by the China Shenyang International Economic and Technical Corporation Limited (CSYIC) in the HELIU Residences Project located in Enugu along the Enugu-Umuahia-Port-Harcourt Expressway.

The Managing Partner of FIT Consult, Chief Loretta Aniagolu, who disclosed this yesterday, said the commercial contract with CSYIC was signed recently in Enugu, adding that the deal was sealed in partnership with the Enugu State government.

She explained that the recent visit of the Chinese team led by the CSYIC President, Madam Tang Lezhen, to the state, was for the final signing of documents with FIT Consult for the financing of the contract.

“We wanted to bring the project with our own funds to a certain level before the Chinese come in, so that they don’t start from the scratch and also, for them to know that we are very serious. We have finally tied up everything on this visit,” she said.

“The bank funding for the project is from China, through the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) which is the biggest bank in the world, with its 2016 turnover put at about $2.3 trillion. The entire transaction of $42.5 million is being guaranteed locally by Access Bank Plc.”

She disclosed that the loan would attract 4 per cent interest and would be repaid in eight years, noting that it has a “two-year moratorium for construction of the projects and six years for the repayment. So, it is a fantastic arrangement. We’re sure of meeting the timeline.

“Secondly, we are also working with Imperial Mortgages Limited, which is providing mortgages for home buyers, making it easier for them to pay for the houses. Presently, of the 60 bungalows we’ve done so far, most have actually been sold on cash basis, while Imperial Mortgages is providing mortgages for the rest. So, we have an arrangement where we are sure that in those eight years or less, we should be able to repay funds. And ‘we’ here means FIT Consult. We are quite confident.”

She also disclosed that so far, over N2 billion has been spent on the project in areas of earthworks, drainages, culverts and buildings, among others.

She dismissed the false impression in some quarters that the project was being executed at a low pace, saying that, “people can hardly see the extent of work going on right inside the entire 1.2 million square meters of the project area from the highway, except they drive into the district. The amount of work so far is enormous and the Chinese team was truly impressed.”

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Author: Uche Atuma