Merrill Lynch & Co. beat out Texas Commerce Bank to lead a $125 million syndication for Imco Recycling Inc., adding another one-stop-shopping deal to its growing collection.

A meeting for 15 lenders was held Wednesday. The credit backs Irving, Tex.-based Imco's $58 million acquisition of aluminum recycler Imsamet from EnviroSource Inc., reaffirming Imco's number-one spot in the rapidly consolidating aluminum recycling industry.

Merrill Lynch is sole underwriter and syndication agent with Texas Commerce as administrative agent.

Both have long-standing relationships with Imco. Merrill Lynch helped found the company in 1986 with an equity investment and took it public in 1989. It structured the facility as part of its ongoing merger and acquisition advisory role.

Texas Commerce, a subsidiary of Chase Manhattan Corp., is Imco's primary banker, but both it and Merrill Lynch were "very competitive," said Paul V. Dufour, Imco's executive vice president for finance and administration.

Differences between the two lenders' financing offers were slight, said Mr. Dufour, but "it came down to price."

The deal "epitomizes how we're running our business," said Christopher J. Birosak, a managing director at Merrill Lynch. "We're focusing on value- added services."

The credit will also be used for debt refinancing and additional capital investment as well as for another acquisition - Imco will buy Rock Creek Aluminum for $9.5 million in stock and assumption of $1.75 million in debt.

Priced at 150 basis points over the London interbank offered rate, the secured credit has an unused commitment fee of 37 basis points. The credit is split between a five-year revolver and a seven-year amortizing loan with an average life of four years.

The loan's leverage ratio is just under three times total debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. Minimum commitment is $15 million, and the deadline is Jan. 21, with the deal expected to close by the end of the month.

Imco recycles aluminum beverage cans, can scrap, and dross into ingots in the United States and in Germany as part of a joint venture.

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