Bankers Trust, BankAmerica Corp., Citicorp, and Bank of Montreal are leading a multicurrency loan for about $525 million to Exide International, the European subsidiary of Exide Corp.
A maker of automotive batteries, Exide will use the loan for debt restructuring, including consolidation of several credit lines of its French, British, and Spanish subsidiaries.
The deal is one of the larger leveraged transactions in the European loan syndication market. It is fully underwritten, with lead arranger Bankers Trust taking the largest portion of the loan. Credit Lyonnais is a senior lead manager.
"Exide is one of our best corporate relationships," said Christopher Turner, head of European syndications at Bankers Trust. The bank helped arrange the bank debt to support recent acquisitions by Exide, and it joined Salomon Brothers Inc. and Morgan Stanley & Co. in a $346 million convertible preferred issue in the United States.
Mr. Turner said reactions from potential participants in the deal have been positive. But a recent dip in the Bloomfield, Mich., company's stock price could raise some questions.
Exide Corp. shares recently dropped about 30% after an announcement that the company's fiscal third-quarter results would fall short of expectations.
While bankers said they look beyond short-term fluctuations in stock value in making loan decisions, they said that lower earnings and a reduced stock price could be important enough that they would revisit the loan's pricing and structure.
"Whatever spooked the stock market can certainly scare the bank loan market," said a loan syndicator.
Analyst Brett Brubaker said the company has grown too fast in a mature market. "Over the last year or so, hope has won out over experience," Mr. Brubaker said. "What they're trying to achieve makes sense. It just looks like they're doing it too fast with too much leverage."
Nonetheless, other bankers said the stock market drop would probably be put into perspective.
"Banks take a slightly longer term approach," said a London-based banker. "We're more interested in whether they can repay the bank debt than in what the stock is worth."
Mr. Turner of Bankers Trust said that, although the change in Exide's stock price was somewhat unexpected, banks were already alerted to the company's restructuring.
"The information that's part of the news was already distributed to the banks," Mr. Turner said. "There's no real material news for banks considering participating in the loan."
The aggregate level of leverage hasn't increased from earlier levels, he said.
"There's no material change in the credit structure. It's a much better credit," Mr. Turner said. "The cross guarantees and structure supports the company's strategy of consolidation and rationalization."
The deal is divided into two tranches. The first is a term facility for Exide Holdings in France of about $47 million.
The second is divided into a roughly $186 million, seven-year amortizing term loan and a $280 million, seven-year revolver.
Initial pricing is the London interbank offered rate plus 150 basis points.
Commitments are due by Feb. 8.