Credit Suisse First Boston is backing a hostile bid by NiSource Inc. for Columbia Energy Group with a $5.7 billion short-term syndicated loan.

NiSource, based in Merrillville, Ind., said Monday it has launched a $68-a-share bid for Columbia Energy. First Boston is advising NiSource's bid. Citigroup Inc.'s Salomon Smith Barney unit is advising Columbia Energy, based in Herndon, Va.

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