Chase Manhattan Corp. and Credit Suisse First Boston are expected to co-lead a loan of up to $10 billion for Philip Morris Cos.' planned acquisition of Nabisco Holdings Corp., according to sources familiar with the deal.

The loan could rank among the largest syndicated in the United States, according to Thomson Financial Securities Data. There have only been about 20 syndicated loans of $10 billion or more, the largest being a $26 billion credit to Hanson Industries Inc. in 1990, according to Securities Data.

Chase, which has a long-standing lending relationship with Philip Morris, was a co-adviser in the Nabisco merger talks along with Credit Suisse and Wasserstein Perella & Co.

Chase and Credit Suisse have been developing advisory relationships with the giant food and tobacco company for two years, according to sources. Wasserstein Perella, which does not underwrite loans, is a veteran adviser to the company.

Philip Morris said this week that it planned to buy Nabisco for $14.9 billion and assume $4 billion of its debt. During a press conference, Philip Morris chairman and chief executive officer Geoffrey Bible said the Nabisco deal will be "financed initially through a combination of short-term debts and bank borrowing."

The company also announced plans for an initial public offering of less than 20% of the new company to be formed through the merger of Philip Morris' Kraft unit and Nabisco. The IPO is targeted for completion in early 2001.

A spokesman for Philip Morris declined to comment more specifically.

Sources familiar with the deal said Chase and Credit Suisse would be involved in some bond financing later on.

The Philip Morris-Nabisco deal lends Chase stature as it builds its M&A business. The banking company has been hiring high-quality talent from big names like Goldman Sachs Group.

The deal also extends Chase's foray into providing advisory services to the food industry, a sector in which it has not had much experience until recently.

Chase advised International Home Foods Inc. in its planned acquisition by ConAgra Inc. It also advised Campbell Soup Co. when it came close to doing a deal with Bestfoods, which ultimately agreed to be sold to Unilever NV.

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