Viacom Inc.'s lead banks have asked prospective agents and co-agents to commit by the end of this week to a $1.5 billion credit backing the company's bid for Paramount Communications Inc.

The three banks - Bank of New York, Citibank, and Morgan Guaranty Trust Co. -- have signed exclusivity agreements with Viacom, prohibiting them from working with QVC Networks Inc. or any other rival bidders for Paramount.

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