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Insurers help to pay for Asia's infrastructure needs

Cash-strapped governments are raising money for projects with long-term debt

BANGKOK A recent $150 million refurbishment of two decades-old geothermal power plants on the Philippine island of Luzon may sound like just another project aimed at overcoming the country's severe electricity shortages. But, for Asia's insurance companies, there is more to it.

Bonds issued to pay for the upgrades and future operation costs, worth 10.7 billion pesos ($213 million), were backed by the Asian Development Bank -- the first such project bonds issued in Southeast Asia, excluding Malaysia, since the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

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