CS First Boston and Dresdner Bank are leading a $200 million syndicated loan for Contifinancial Corp., the first such credit for the finance company.

The New York-based Contifinancial said it will use the unsecured revolving credit to enhance its profile with the rating agencies, and strengthen its relationships with its commercial banks.

"This is what any good BBB company should have in its quiver," said James E. Moore, the chief executive officer at Contifinancial.

Contifinancial is rated BB+, which is just one notch below investment grade. The company is interested in raising its ratings to BBB or higher, said Mr. Moore.

Despite investment banks' aggressive move into commercial lending, Mr. Moore said he was looking primarily to commercial banks to lead the company's first syndicated loan.

"Commercial banks understand better the collateral being structured,"Mr. Moore said.

CS First Boston and Dresdner Bank both had been active in providing bank services to Contifinancial.

CS First Boston, which is equally underwriting the loan with Dresdner, co-managed a $300 million bond issue in August with Bear Stearns.

Dresdner had sold some of the company's initial public offering in February. The stock deal was led by Merrill Lynch & Co.

The German-based bank has not recently been an active originator of loans, but plans to raise its visibility.

"You haven't seen us in evidence much in the last couple of years," said Patrick Connolly, an executive vice president in charge of commercial lending at Dresdner. "We certainly want to rectify that situation."

Dresdner recently committed $500 million to Norfolk Southern's $12.5 billion loan backing its hostile offer for Conrail.

Mr. Connolly said that the bank is actively looking to become a lead or co-lead underwriter in a number of sectors, including project finance, health care, real estate, and financial services.

"We also want to be in insurance, but at a step down from the upper stratum, where the fees are more generous," said Mr. Connolly.

Dresdner is looking to make selective hires in its commercial lending operation.

Mr. Moore said Dresdner was "among the more aggressive in price and structure, and were very enthusiastic about having a role in the life of the company."

The Contifinancial loan has an initial fee of the London interbank offered rate plus 75 basis points.

Co-agents committing $20 million will receive 25 basis points; banks committing $10 million will get 12.5 basis points.

Heather Timmons contributed to this article.

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