Bank of Boston, Bank of New York, and Toronto Dominion Bank are leading a $1.2 billion loan for a major acquisition by Continental Cablevision Inc. of Boston.

The banks hosted a meeting Friday of a 50-plus member group that provided $2.2 billion facility to Continental last fall, as well as several banks invited to join in the new loan.

The new loan is one of growing number of billion-dollar bank financings to stem from consolidation in the cable industry. Chemical Bank recently led a $9 billion loan to Time Warner Inc., and is expected to come to market shortly with a $1.15 billion loan to Marcus Cable Operating Co..

The loan to the unit of the Marcus Group, of Dallas, led by Chemical with coarrangers Goldman, Sachs & Co. Citibank, Union Bank, Banque Paribas and Bank of Boston will enable the borrower to refinance existing debt and buy about 200 cable systems, mostly in the Midwest, from Sammons Communications Inc., also of Dallas.

Continental, the nation's third-largest cable operator, serving 3.1 million subscribers in 16 states, has agreed to acquire the cable operations of the Providence Journal for $1.4 billion.

Continental will acquire the Journal's Colony Communications units, whose 750,000 subscribers are concentrated in New England, Florida, and southern California - areas already served by Continental.

Bank of Boston and Bank of New York were leaders of the earlier loan to Continental. Toronto Dominion has joined them as managing agent of the new loan, which is to a newly created entity consisting of the acquired operations. "There is no recourse to Continental," said Eric Krauss, the company's treasurer.

A banker familiar with the loan said the three managing agents have underwritten $150 million apiece. Continental has access to capital, and has no time pressure to complete its deal, so it does not require a more expensive, fully underwritten loan, the banker said.

Five agent banks have already committed $100 million each, the banker said.

The loan is structured as a nine-year reducing revolver. The loan is expected to be priced initially at the London interbank offered rate plus about 150 basis points, based on the ratio of cash flow to debt. Should cash flow be increased or debt be reduced, the rate could be reduced to as little as 62.5 basis points over Libor.

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