The annual Siemens Energy Financial Services Oktoberfest bash in New York settled into a new venue this year at the Ziegfeld Ballroom, a recently repurposed former movie theater in Midtown Manhattan.
The switch of location from the event’s former home at The Harvard Club was said to be partly down to a widening of the guest list to include non-energy clients and collaborators. As many as 600 people are understood to have RSVP’d.
While some attendees were wistfully nostalgic for the old-school, wood-paneled atmosphere of the Harvard Club, the new, open-plan layout was well received and allowed for plenty of mingling.
The hearty, traditional Bavarian fare on offer—wurst, spaetzele, red cabbage—was also appreciated, especially by one project finance syndicator and karate black belt, who was in calorie-loading mode.
However, the Oktoberfest theme was less prominent than in previous years, noted another partygoer.
There was plenty of shoptalk, of course, as project finance bankers compared notes on where the next big deals were coming from, attempted to make sense of the rash of quasi-merchant solar financings in Texas and bemoaned the prevailing tight loan margins.
“They can’t go any lower,” said an energy banker who has seen construction loans being pitched at 75 basis points over Libor and back-leveraged term debt for contracted projects around the 150 bp mark.
As year-end approaches, some project finance shops that have done large deals for gas-fired, midstream and LNG assets have already hit their budgets for 2019 and are therefore in no rush to close any more in the fourth quarter.
“Unless it’s for a big, important client and needs to get done this year, it’s likely to be pushed into 2020,” says a syndicator at one such institution.
Meanwhile, in the unlikely event that anyone had failed to meet their quota of beer, wine and whiskey by the end of the evening, they could top themselves up with one of the sugar-coated, brandy-filled chocolate liqueurs that were given away as party favors as they waited for a cab in the drizzle outside.