Exemplifying banks' evolving position in corporate finance, Bankers Trust New York Corp. has won a strikingly broad role in funding an acquisition in the supermarket industry.
Bankers Trust is sharing the lead with Chase Manhattan Corp. on an $850 million loan to Smith's Food and Drug Centers, and is helping underwrite $50 million of preferred shares and $650 million in high-yield bonds.
The package, which will restructure existing debt and help the Salt Lake City retailer complete its $239 million acquisition of Smitty's Supermarkets, comes as major banks are trying to provide increasingly broad menus of financing for their corporate clients.
"The one-stop shopping trend seems to be reality, albeit slow-moving in the marketplace," said Glenn Marchak, vice president and head of loan syndications at Natwest Markets Inc.
Goldman Sachs & Co., Chemical Banking Corp., CS First Boston, and Merrill Lynch are just a few of the other financial institutions looking to lead financings that involve more than one type of debt.
"Investment and commercial banks are in each other's backyard and will become more in each other's backyard over time," said George Salem, a bank analyst at Gerard Klauer Mattison.
The deal for the supermarket company also underscores Bankers Trust's growing strength in the leveraged financing market.
In 1995, Bankers Trust served as the lead agent on 56 deals, syndicating more than $11.8 billion in highly-leveraged loans to grab an industry- leading 18% market share, according to Loan Pricing Corp.
Deals that have a price of more than 250 basis points over the London interbank offered rate - usually for noninvestment grade companies - are considered highly leveraged.
Bankers Trust has won a host of leveraged deals through its one-stop shopping approach. Last year, the bank led a $975 million loan for Ralph's Supermarkets, while co-leading a $350 million bond issue.
Smith's barely qualifies for the investment-grade category and could slip below investment grade within several months. It has a BBB-minus Standard & Poor's rating on its pass-through certificates, but it's been placed on negative watch.
The pricing on the bank loan reflects the company's debt status.
The deal, which is equally underwritten by the two banks, is preliminarily structured as a $190 million revolver and a $360 million A term loan. Both of these pieces have 6.25-year maturities and are priced at Libor plus 275 basis points.
Three lower tiers on the loan are all $100 million but carry different prices and maturities: The B-tranche is preliminarily priced at Libor plus 325 basis points and has a maturity of 7.5 years; the C-tranche, Libor plus 375, 8.5 years; D-tranche, Libor plus 400, 9.25 years.
Goldman Sachs, CS First Boston, Chase and Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette are joining Bankers Trust in the deal. The high-yield bonds include $250 million in senior notes and $400 million of subordinated bonds.
Although bankers haven't yet seen the books for the deal, one banker said the pricing seemed "attractive."
While many New York bankers tout the value of one-stop shopping, the approach is not without its skeptics.
"I question whose side the bank is on as it structures both the high- yield and the bank loans," said a banker. But he was quick to add that he hadn't yet seen an example of impropriety in a one-stop shopping deal.