IIRC (this is from memory) it didn't say they have the credit signed sealed & delivered, but that the hiccup when credit dried up everywhere was over, & negotiations were proceeding on the basis of more favourable terms than before the credit crunch. Lenders seem to have decided that it's a safe haven for their money. Fair enough, given the state backing.
Still a bloody stupid deal. We should buy the damn things outright, & if we have spare capacity (unlikely unless we buy more), make a deal with a firm with suitable skills to operate any spare aircraft, wet-leasing them to whoever might want 'em - e.g. some of our allies.
From The Daily Telegraph:
£13bn RAF tanker deal is ready for lift-off
By Sylvia Pfeifer
Last Updated: 10:36pm GMT
Britain's biggest private finance initiative, the long-delayed £13bn deal to supply the Royal Air Force with a vital new fleet of tanker aircraft, is ready for lift-off.
AirTanker, the consortium backing the project which is led by Airbus's parent company EADS, launched a competition to raise £2.5bn of financing earlier this year. Although the credit crunch has increased the cost of the fund-raising, the consortium insists that things are on track.
Anthony Forshaw, managing director at Deutsche Bank, the consortium's financial adviser, said: "We do have options, despite the credit crunch. We had extraordinarily aggressive pitches from the banks of around 50-70 basis points over Libor. But the credit crisis has moved the cost of bank finance up by between 10-20 basis points to about 70-80 basis points."
According to Forshaw, even after the credit crunch, the terms offered by the banks support allocating some 25 per cent of the debt funding to banks. The remainder will now be raised via a bond issue, which would be the largest PFI bond ever issued.
"The rest is expected to be raised in the wrapped bond market. However flexibility is being maintained to vary each debt component, depending on the market," said Forshaw.
The consortium is in the process of finalising an agreement with Ambac, the world's second largest municipal bond insurer, and with HBOS on the bank debt side, but expects to bring other institutions into the deal before it closes.
Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and RBC are arranging the wrapped bonds. The financing structure has also received preliminary investment grade indications from both Moody's and S&P.
"The bulk of the controversial documentation is in an agreed form and we will be disappointed not to be going to market early next year," added Forshaw.
The consortium includes VT, Rolls-Royce, Cobham and Thales. Under the terms of the 27-year deal, AirTanker will provide a fleet of Airbus A330 tankers to replace the RAF's old tanker fleet.