CIBC Wood Gundy is leading a $1.7 billion financing of Outdoor Systems Inc.'s purchase of a billboard company from Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing.
The transaction by the unit of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce includes the refinancing of $500 million in existing debt, about $335 million in subordinated bridge debt, a $300 million issue of preferred stock, and $600 million in new bank debt.
The transaction broadens CIBC's relationship with National Advertising Co. of Phoenix, which operates in 38 states. It reflects the Canadian bank's "one-stop shopping" approach to corporate finance.
"This is the kind of full-balance-sheet transaction we want to make," said Andrew Heyer, one of the heads of the high-yield group. "We have a very strong client relationship, and all aspects of the bank are working together."
Mr. Heyer was co-founder of the Argosy Group, an investment banking boutique which CIBC acquired in 1995 in order to bolster its high-yield practice.
CIBC Wood Gundy has had a long relationship with Outdoor. In October, the bank led a $240 million high-yield bond offering for the company. "This is a flagship client of ours, and we have enormous respect for their operating and transaction ability and hope to work with them in the future," Mr. Heyer said.
Market sources say that though the transaction is sizable for CIBC Wood Gundy, the bank has experience with similarly structured transactions and with outdoor advertising clients.
Though Moody's and S&P put Outdoor Systems on ratings watches due to the new transaction, media lenders praised the company's expansion plan. Outdoor kicked off its expansion program last summer with the acquisition of Gannett Co.'s outdoor advertising unit.
The deal is the latest example of a revival of bridge lending, an interim form of financing that proved risky for banks in the past, when borrowers were unable to replace bridge facilities by issuing debt or equity.
But bankers say that bridge lending now is much different than it was in the 1980s, because a deeper and more diverse secondary market has developed for the loans.
In the rare cases where a loan cannot be sold, banks generally are better prepared to hold them, bankers said.
Banks such as CIBC which have expertise in an industry can afford to be more aggressive because they have a firm understanding of the risks and opportunities of financing the companies, bankers argue.
"What's important is the type of companies you bring to market," said one market observer. "Where banks are succeeding is that they are recognizing that they can't be everything to everybody, and so are selecting certain niche industries."