Soccer-Barcelona issues bonds for Camp Nou revamp

  • Football
  • Wednesday, 31 May 2023

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - LaLiga - FC Barcelona v RCD Mallorca - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - May 28, 2023 General view outside the stadium before the last match prior to renovation work starting on Camp Nou REUTERS/Albert Gea/File Photo

MADRID (Reuters) - Barcelona issued bonds on Wednesday to finance the revamp of its Camp Nou stadium, agreeing to pay 6%-7.22% interest depending on maturities, more than initially expected, according to data published on the Vienna stock exchange.

The Spanish club said in April it had secured a financing deal worth 1.45 billion euros ($1.60 billion) with investors including Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan that will enable it to renovate its iconic but outdated stadium and its surroundings.

Camp Nou is the largest football stadium in Europe and the fourth-largest in the world by capacity, with 99,354 seats.

It agreed to pay back investors in progressive tranches -- after five, seven, nine, 20, and 24 years -- with a flexible structure, including a grace period, with the final repayment coming six years earlier than under the terms initially approved by the club members in 2021.

Barca's financial director has estimated the net interest rate would average about 5.5%, but warned that external events such as February's earthquake in Turkey and the banking sector turmoil could make the issuance more expensive.

According to the Vienna bourse, the bonds registered and issued on Wednesday by the Espai Barca fund handling the stadium project will mature in 2028, 2030, 2032, 2043 and 2047, and have interest rates ranging from 6% to 7.22%.

Barcelona, which hopes the revamp stadium will allow them to generate more than 200 million euros of additional revenue annually through sponsorship and naming rights, ticketing, catering, VIP boxes, hospitality, meetings and events, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comments.

It took the club two years to negotiate the deal with investors and rating agencies.

Kroll Bond Rating Agency (KBRA) said the revised preliminary debt structure forced it to downgrade the financing plan's rating to BBB from BBB+ due to additional refinancing and interest rate risk.

It later converted its preliminary rating to unpublished from published at the club's request.

($1 = 0.9084 euros)

(Reporting by Corina Pons; Editing by Alison Williams)

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