Toronto Dominion Bank, Chase Manhattan Bank, J.P. Morgan & Co., NationsBank Corp., and the investment banking arm of Barclays Bank PLC last week made quick work of syndicating a $250 million loan for Nextel Communications Inc.
The new loan supplements a $1.65 billion facility that closed for the digital wireless company last fall and is called the E tranche.
It is structured so most of the principal is paid off as the loan nears maturity, a feature that is especially appealing to institutional investors. Forty commercial banks and institutional investors participated in the deal. Thirty-five institutions committed $5 million each, and the five arranging agents committed $15 million apiece.
The loan is priced at the London interbank offered rate plus 300 basis points.
A lender involved with the deal said the enthusiastic reception "was indicative of the hunger in the market for well-priced paper." Another lender who worked on the loan added that the company had been performing well ahead of its projections.
"Even lenders these days aren't scared away by back-ended amortization to get the higher deal. They're having to do that to get the deal," the lender, who requested anonymity, said. "We knew that it would be strongly received, but we were impressed with the speed we had in turning it around."
A.J. Long, Nextel's vice president and treasurer, recently added NationsBank and Barclays de Zoete Wedd as co-arrangers on the E tranche. They were added because "they'd been diligent in coming to the company with ideas and good proposals on how to place the new $250 (million) piece, and where we should price it," he said.
Bankers have been eager to finance the McLean, Va., company, which has the financial backing of investor Craig McCaw. When the company approached the bank market for the first time last fall, the original loan, which was targeted for $1.5 billion, was increased by $125 million because of oversubscription.
Mr. Long said banks and investment banks call on him daily with their ideas about how to increase his capital flow, but "it's very easy to spot those who are ready to make a commitment.
"Whether they're investment or commercial banks, those who come in and understand your last quarter's operating results, your business plans, and can make suggestions about lowering the cost of capital and opening sources of financing that have been untapped" really stand out, Mr. Long said.
For a separate $500 million private placement by Nextel last week, Mr. Long chose Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette after receiving five proposals from commercial and investment banks. The offering was originally targeted for $350 million but was increased due to substantial investor interest.
In a separate transaction that has not closed, Mr. Long initially got proposals from 18 institutions. When nine ultimately bid on the deal, Mr. Long selected elements that he thought were the most attractive from each and presented counterproposals. This narrowed the field to four.
"The fact that more than half of the groups dropped out told me that it was a pretty aggressive proposal," Mr. Long said. But he added that the competition among a few institutions for the business, gave him confidence that it could be done.