Salomon Brothers added another deal to its list of one-stop-banking transactions, playing a three-part role in Mercury Finance's acquisition of Fidelity Acceptance Corp. from Bank of Boston Corp.
Salomon, which entered the loan origination and syndication market last year, is syndicating a $750 million loan for Mercury. The credit will provide Mercury, one of the country's largest subprime lenders, with interim financing as it awaits the proceeds of a planned bond issue.
The investment bank is also on tap to lead the bond offering, which could total $1 billion. In addition, it advised Mercury on the Fidelity acquisition, a $453 million stock deal announced earlier this week.
Salomon is touting the loan as the first time an investment bank has provided interim financing for an investment-grade company.
"Historically, investment-grade companies have gone to commercial banks for interim financing prior to their public debt issuance plan," said Nazan Clohesy, a vice president in charge of syndication distribution at Salomon.
Mercury turned to Salomon for convenience's sake, said Bradley S. Vallem, treasurer of the Lake Forest, Ill.-based company. Its "core" commercial banks include NationsBank Corp., First Chicago NBD, Banc One Corp., First Bank Systems, and BankAmerica Corp., he added.
"There's no doubt that in this case convenience was a very strong benefit to us," he said. In connection with its purchase of Fidelity Acceptance, Mercury is refinancing $700 million in Fidelity debt.
Mr. Vallem added that the loan's terms were very reasonable.
Coming to market the week of Jan. 27, the credit, for which Salomon is syndication agent, is split into two $375 million pieces - a 364-day facility and a three-year revolver.
Pricing for both parts is set at 50 points over the London interbank offered rate, with unused commitment fees of 12 basis points for the shorter tranche and 22 basis points for the three-year half.
The investment-grade facility for Mercury, whose public debt is currently rated at BBB-plus/baa2, is set to close Feb. 28.