Syndication of a $900 million loan for American Radio Systems Corp.'s acquisition of EZ Communications is at the halfway point with a week to go, its arrangers say.

The three arrangers - leader Bank of New York Co. and co-agents Chase Manhattan Corp. and Toronto-Dominion Bank - have each committed $125 million. Fleet Financial Group Inc. has come in with a $75 million commitment, sources involved in the deal said.

The deal, launched Dec. 2, is on track to close near the end of this week, these sources said.

That's not to say the loan hasn't met some resistance. Several lenders, speaking on condition of anonymity, complained last week that the deal is priced thinly and structured loosely. Among the gripes: The loan features too much senior debt and too little subordinated debt, and covenants are too lax.

The deal is "not the most richly priced" one on the market, acknowledged one source involved in the deal. But he added that it is priced at market value and said there will not be any problems filling it.

Pricing for the American Radio deal starts at the London interbank offered rate plus 200 basis points, with a 37.5-basis-point commitment fee at a debt to cash flow ratio of greater than 6.5 to 1. It bottoms out at Libor plus 50 with a 25 basis points commitment fee at a debt to cash flow ratio of less than 4 to 1, according to Loan Pricing Corp.

The credit is split between a $550 million revolver and a $150 million single-draw term loan - both for eight years - and a $200 million, 364-day facility that terms out over seven years.

One factor in the resistance to the American Radio loan is a smaller but similar deal that is vying for lenders' attention.

Several lenders who were critical of the American Radio deal said it stacks up poorly against a $450 million syndication for radio competitor Chancellor Broadcasting Corp.

This deal - led by Bankers Trust New York Corp. with NationsBank Corp. and Goldman, Sachs & Co. acting as co-agents - is also expected to close later this week.

Pricing information for the Chancellor deal was not available, but one source said the loan is priced 50 basis points higher and has a tighter structure.

Added another lender: "Chancellor is smaller, so it's easier to move the paper." The arrangers of the American Radio deal "should have invited more people at the upper level" to bring down the size of the $75 million agent commitments.

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