Chase Manhattan Corp. has closed syndication of a challenging $2 billion loan for wireless communications firm Sprint Spectrum.
The loan for the new joint venture of Sprint Corp., Cox Communications, Comcast Cable, and Telecommunications Inc., had met resistance in the market after Chase won the deal away from the trio of J.P. Morgan & Co., Toronto Dominion Bank, and Citicorp.
Syndication experts had warned that Chase risked holding a large amount of the fully underwritten loan on its own books. But by the end of last week, approximately 40 institutions, including 30 banks, had signed onto the deal, market sources said.
While Chase officials declined to discuss how much of the loan it was holding on its books, James B. Lee Jr., head of global investment banking at Chase, said the bank was comfortable with its position.
"We knew all along that we had a terrific client group and a terrific bank deal, and so we were highly confident through the entire syndication of achieving this outcome," he said. "We are at the hold level that we had originally planned on when we approved the $2 billion underwriting."
The nine agents participating at $100 million are: Hypo Bank, Mitsubishi Trust, Bank of New York Corp., Societe Generale, Bankers Trust, NationsBank Corp., West LB, Credit Lyonais, and BNP.
The banks contributing $50 million include: IBJ, Bank of Boston Corp., Long Term Credit Bank, Secura Bank, Chiao Tung, Fleet Financial Group Inc., Sanwa Bank, Bank Paribas, Korea First, Sumitomo Bank, and Credit Local.
Ten investors also contributed to the $300 million institutional or "B" part of the loan.
Bankers who did not participate in the deal said the fact that the original Chase loan did not include an institutional portion indicated how difficult the terms were for bank's credit committees.
Indeed, Chase had offered some inducements to banks participating in the deal as managing agents, including offering those who committed $100 million an option to apply $15 million to the higher yielding, longer maturity "B" piece.
Rumors circulated that the bank changed the pricing on the deal. But an official at Chase insisted that all lenders committed on identical terms that were offered originally.
"We believe in the business and in the company," said a syndicated lender contributing to the deal. "We made our decision based on what's best for our own firm, not a collective decision based on what's best for the market."
Separately, Chase has won several lead assignments on Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Inc.'s approximately $1.3 billion acquisition of the food business of American Home Products Corp.
The acquisition by Hicks, Muse marks the largest to date for the seven-year-old buyout firm.
Private investment firms like Hicks, Muse, which frequently require high-priced banking products and ideas, had remained on the sidelines during the recent stock market surge. However, these firms have been increasingly active lately.
Chase acted as adviser on the transaction, and it will arrange approximately $1 billion in senior bank loans and high yield bonds with Bankers Trust New York Corp.
"This is yet another very significant one-stop banking effort," Mr. Lee said. "It is not unlike what we did for Westinghouse and Infinity, where we brought two big existing clients together."
Mr. Lee provided advice to Westinghouse on its $3.9 billion deal for the radio broadcaster earlier this summer.