Two corporate loans worth a combined $11.5 billion are meeting resistance in the early stages of syndication.
Bankers say syndication has slowed to a crawl for a $7.3 billion loan to Allied Waste Industries Inc., led by Chase Manhattan Corp., and a $4.5 billion deal for Computer Associates International Inc., led by Credit Suisse First Boston.
Though those loans are dwarfed by a $30 billion loan for AT&T Corp., which closed syndication last week, many bankers consider the fate of these smaller credits to be a better gauge of the market's appetite.
A highly leveraged loan the size of the Allied Waste syndication had not been done for 10 years until last year's $7 billion loan to Lyondell Petrochemical Inc., said one banker.
At issue for potential members of the Allied Waste syndicate is a $1.5 billion credit line. Banks have recently been unwilling to commit to those lines, because they may not be drawn upon. But banks are more likely to commit to those lines when large up-front fees are paid.
In the Allied Waste deal, fees have been the source of prolonged negotiation between Chase and three of the 10 banks that were invited into the $4.75 billion commitment.
To woo the final three banks, Chase recently added $350,000 to an original up-front fee package of $1 million, and 1% when the loan is allocated to banks, a source said.
Chase wooed an $850 million commitment-three times the $275 million required to be a top-tier syndicator-from Credit Suisse First Boston with an undisclosed fee and return package.
To pay higher up-front fees and add Credit Suisse First Boston, however, Chase has had to juggle commitment levels and fee payments to other members of the syndicate. Returns for various pieces of the loan range from the London interbank offered rate plus 225 basis points to Libor plus 300.
"My sense was that getting CSFB in the group took off some of the pressure Chase was under," said a syndicate banker. "But there's a lot of economics involved in getting that $850 million."
A banker in the top tier of syndicators acknowledged that syndication had begun to taper off, but said that it was too early to say whether the credit would be "stuck" in the market.
"This is just a bunch of maneuvering," the banker said. "It's like the first quarter of a ball game. There's a lot that needs to be played out."
A general bank meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday in New York. Citigroup Inc. is syndications agent on the deal. Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Inc. is documentation agent.
Meanwhile, bankers at Credit Suisse First Boston have had to tinker with the Computer Associates deal after investors said they were concerned about what they consider to be high exposure.
Last Thursday, Credit Suisse First Boston raised the return on the loan to Libor plus 125 basis points, from Libor plus 100. By last Friday the investment bank had received three new commitments at $225 million each. As of Monday, 10 banks were expected to join the group.
The loan consists of a $1 billion four-year revolver, a $2 billion four- year term loan, and a $1.5 billion 364-day term loan.