Chemical Banking Corp. won the mandate to lead a 6-billion-Ecu ($7.2 billion) revolver for the Kingdom of Spain, the largest sovereign credit to hit the loan market this year.

Excluding refinancings, Spain's new revolver is also bigger than any corporate deal to have come to market so far this year.

Sovereign credits are syndicated essentially the same way as corporate credits, and they are counted for the purpose of constructing the global league tables, which rank banks based on the number of loans they agent or coagent.

The five-year credit line can be drawn in European currency units, German marks, French francs, pounds sterling; Swiss francs, or U.S. dollars.

Chemical, which competed against a number of other bidders. started marketing the deal Wednesday, sources said.

The revolver will be used to fund general governmental operations and is priced at 4.5 basis points over the London interbank offered rate. Fees, on a drawn basis, are slightly less than 10 basis points. market sources said.

While pricing is thin, Spain is rated AA by Standard & Poor's Corp., and the credit carries a zero risk weighting under international capital guidelines.

The revolver comes on top of a 5-billion-Ecu credit for Spain that was led last year by National Westminster Bank.

Natwest is said to have been among the bidders on the new revolver.

The identity of the other bidders couldn't be learned.

Among the other big sovereign credits to have been syndicated within the past year was a $4 billion deal for Canada led by Citicorp.

Citicorp and J.P. Morgan & Co. are considered to be among the leaders in arranging sovereign credits. In winning the mandate on Spain's new revolver, Chemical is showing signs that it wants to get more active in this segment of the loan market.

Chemical runs the largest non-Spanish-owned bank in Spain, which might have helped it win the deal.

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