Asia Container Terminals (ACT) has signed agreements with seven banks to raise $3.4 billion to fund its part of building Container Terminal 9 (CT9) at Tsing Yi Island. ACT's share in the $5.1 billion CT9 project will be $3.2 billion, or 62.75 per cent of the total cost. The company will use the remaining $200 million of the funds as working capital. 'This is the first big deal since the Asian crisis showing renewed attention by banks to infrastructure projects,' said Francois Favret, director of product finance at Societe Generale Asia, one of the seven banks that arranged financing. The other banks involved in the credit are ABN Amro Bank, BA Asia, Bank Deutsche Genossenschaftsbank, Dresdner Bank, National Australia Bank and Westdeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale. The 10-year financing - to be made in $3.2 billion and $200 million portions - is to have an interest rate of 1.8 to 1.9 per cent above the Hong Kong interbank offered rate. Two other parties - Hongkong International Terminals (HIT) and Modern Terminals - will bear the remaining $1.9 billion to build CT9. Seven consortiums have been short-listed by design consultant Scott Wilson and Maunsell Consultants Asia, which is working for HIT and Modern Terminals, to bid for the CT9 project. Tenders will close this month, and the project is expected to be awarded by May at the latest. Modern Terminals spokesman Joel Cheung said: 'We are ready for financing the project, partly from internal resources and partly by external borrowings.' Schroders acted as an adviser to ACT - which groups New World Infrastructure, Hongkong Land Holdings, Sun Hung Kai Properties and Sea-Land Orient Terminals - to raise the funds for the CT9 project. After CT9 is completed, ACT will swap its berths for two of Modern Terminal's berths at CT8 West, which are to be operated by Sea-Land. According to an analyst, the approval of the financing arrangement for ACT was an indication Hong Kong was now ready to go ahead with terminal construction. Container throughput last year was much stronger than expected, according to the analyst. Hong Kong had an estimated 20.7 million teu, or 20-foot equivalent unit, capacity last year, he said. The SAR was expected to have 21 million teu capacity this year, the analyst said.