A mortgage company formed by Bank of Boston Corp. has snared a $2.5 billion syndicated bank loan to get a unique joint venture with Barnett Banks Inc. off the ground.
The credit facility for HomeSide Lending Inc., as the venture is known, is one of the largest ever granted to a mortgage company. Under terms finalized Tuesday, the company is getting a $1.55 billion warehouse line of credit to support home loan securitization, and a $950 million loan to acquire servicing rights.
Chase Manhattan is leading the loan as the administrative agent. NationsBank is the syndication agent and Bankers Trust New York Corp. is documentation agent.
Industry observers said the deal broke a dry spell in which mortgage companies were finding it tough to get financing on Wall Street.
HomeSide Lending chairman Joe K. Pickett, who was in New York to help with the syndication effort, said banks' interest in the deal spoke well of the new lending operation's credibility.
"It shows a great deal of confidence in the strength of the management team, the owners, and what we're trying to achieve," said Mr. Pickett, who had been chairman of BancBoston Mortgage.
The loan would provide the financial firepower for the launch of HomeSide Lending, which is expected to open for business next month, when Barnett officially adds its mortgage business to the mix. The company cobbles together the operations of BancBoston Mortgage and Barnett Mortgage, with additional financial support from venture capitalist firms Thomas H. Lee Co. and Madison Dearborn Partners.
The credit facility would leave HomeSide, based in Jacksonville, Fla., with a small war chest to fund acquisitions, one of its principals said.
"We are very happy with this," said Thomas Hagerty, managing director of Thomas H. Lee Co. He estimated the loan would enable the company to buy a portfolio of up to $10 billion of servicing rights. "Now we have to get on with the consolidation and ongoing business."
Under the alliance, BancBoston Mortgage will contribute $42 billion of servicing and Barnett Mortgage $33 billion to create the industry's seventh-largest mortgage company. The alliance is seen as a ground-breaking way to create economies of scale by combining mortgage systems and servicing.
Executives with the mortgage bank have said they want to build the servicing portfolio to $100 billion through acquisitions and internal growth.
A portion of the $2.5 billion will allow BancBoston Mortgage to take on the loans from Barnett, executives at BancBoston said. The funding will allow the company to purchase servicing rights for Barnett's mortgage loans. The capital will support warehousing, or the financing of loans that have been closed and are awaiting sale in the secondary market.
The financial assistance became necessary when Bank of Boston, which used to supply the support, loosened its ties to the mortgage operation. Sources close to the deal said Bank of Boston's own lending operation was concerned about a possible conflict of interest, given the bank's equity stake in HomeSide Lending.
Industry observers said the deal comes as many lenders were actually starting to cut back credit lines to mortgage companies. The concern was rising interest rates and declining loan demand would leave mortgage lenders financially strapped.
"People weren't refinancing their mortgages that much, and volume fell," said one loan syndicator.
The $1.55 billion warehouse facility carries the London interbank offered rate plus 45 basis points; and a $950 million line for servicing priced at Libor plus 75 basis points.
Industry analysts said the rates are appropriate to the BB- rating that BancBoston Mortgage carries.