For Connect, raising the £132M needed for the two year construction period was to become the most important part of the project, because its financing strategy won the consortium the job.
'We set up a bond issue to raise the finance, ' says Connect operations director of Andy Beauchamp. 'At the time the bond market provided better margins [than a bank loan], which meant that it was more economic for the client. We had to make sure that the bonds were wrapped with an insurer so that they were highly rated enough to keep the risk low, ' he says. 'We now have to ensure that we have the asset ready to start earning.' If Connect is going to get paid its first instalment of the 30 year pay back period, construction of the new roads must finish by 30 April. It will earn only 95% of the pay back rate until the upgrade of the existing A77 is completed in August.
As with any PFI project the payback is performance related - 80% is based on lane availability and 20% is on traffic volumes, says Mackay. Connect Road Operators will carry out maintenance over the concession period.