Banks are being asked to Provide $2.4 billion to finance the breakup of Storer Commumcations Inc., a Miami cable television operator.
And in the surest sign to date that the two-year-old freeze on loans to the cable industry is over, banks are jumping at the chance to participate in these huge credits.
Cable giants Tele-communications Inc. and Comcast Corp. are partners in Storer and are raising funds to split up Storer's cable units between them. Each is arranging $1.2 billion in loans.
The Lead Banks
Bank of New York, Chase Manhattan Bank, Chemical Bank, and Toronto-dominion Bank are leading the loan to Comcast, which is based in Philadelphia. The loans to three units of Tele-communications are being managed by Toronto-Dominion, Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of New York, and Credit Lyonnais.
As of Monday, the Comcast financing was already oversubscribed, and the loan is not scheduled to begin general syndication until Friday.
The financings for the Tele-Communications units are also going smoothly, market participants said. TCI and Comcast officials declined to comment or did not return calls.
"This is a huge $1.2 billion credit, such that some people were concerned about market capacity," a media lending specialist said of the Comcast loan. "The extent of the oversubscription is a surprise, even to some of the agent banks."
Added Regulation Looms
The warm reception is a relief to the cable industry, which now faces the prospect of new federal regulation.
In the Comcast credit, the four lead banks committed a total of $500 million and earlier this month invited about 20 other banks to commit to underwrite $50 million to $125 million.
Nearly all of the invited underwriting banks are expected to commit. By Monday, they had commitments for $750 million, with a number of other underwriting banks still seeking credit approvals.
About 60 more banks will be invited to join the deal at the general syndication meeting.
Banks are attracted by Comcast's reputation as a top-quality cable operator and the fat fees it is offering.
Banks committing $50 million receive a front-end fee of I % of their allocated amount plus a flat fee of $50,000; banks committing $75 million receive a fee of 1.25% of their allocated commitment and a flat fee of $150,000; and banks committing $125 million receive 1.38% of their allocated commitment plus a flat fee of $200,000.
The eight-year credit carries a commitment fee of 3/8% and a borrowing rate of two percentage points over the London interbank offered rate at the outset, based on the company's expected ratio of debt to cash flow of more than 6.25 to 1.
In the Tele-communications credit, the four lead banks committed a total of $400 million and brought in about $480 million in commitments from co-agent banks before taking the loans to general syndication.
The deadline for commitments in general syndication is next week, but bankers predict a successful syndication for these loans.