First Nations-led group planning bid for majority stake in Trans Mountain pipeline – by Jeffrey Jones (Globe and Mail – March 28, 2019)

A First Nations-led group is putting together a bid to buy a 51-per-cent stake in Ottawa’s Trans Mountain oil pipeline with the aim of kickstarting the long-delayed expansion by giving Indigenous communities a financial stake.

All First Nations in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia are being invited to participate in the $6.8-billion plan, which values the project at more than $13-billion.

The effort is led by Delbert Wapass, former chief of the Thunderchild First Nation in Saskatchewan and current vice-chairman of the Indian Resource Council. The group, called Project Reconciliation, hopes to build support for the massive oil export project, which has divided Indigenous people.

The group is in talks with major Canadian banks to lead a syndicated debt issue to finance the acquisition and its share of the expansion costs. The senior secured debt would be underpinned by the long-term shipping contracts that energy companies have signed with Trans Mountain, as well as guarantees that governments have offered to cover construction risks, the group says. That would eliminate any need for taxpayer subsidies or upfront payments by the Indigenous communities.

The participating First Nations would own shares in a general partnership, with those along the pipeline right-of-way owning a more senior class of share as they are most affected, the group says.

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