Ten banks lead SABMiller’s $12.5 bln loan

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* SABMiller nets 10 out of 12 banks
* Dollar funding costs high for European banks
* Further syndication possible

By Tessa Walsh and Alasdair Reilly

LONDON, Aug 25 (Reuters) – Ten banks have been formally mandated to lead global brewer SABMiller’s $12.5 billion acquisition loan which backs its hostile $10 billion bid for rival Foster’s , banking sources said on Thursday.

“Ten banks have signed in. The loan has been formally mandated on the agreed terms and SABMiller has sufficient funds to back the bid it’s made,” a senior loan banker said.

SABMiller asked 12 relationship banks to provide $1.6 billion each to back the bid which became increasingly difficult for European banks last week as dollar funding costs spiked.

Two banks — BNP Paribas and Commerzbank — did not join the mandated group, in a move that highlights the losses around relationship lending arising from high dollar funding costs and lower interest margins on loans, two bankers said.

BNP Paribas declined to comment and Commerzbank was not immediately available for comment.

Dollar funding costs have trebled in recent weeks and the dollar squeeze intensified last week when one bank had to tap the ECB for $500 million.

The marginal cost of dollar funding is more than 200 basis points, using Credit Default Swaps as a proxy, while the interest margin on the loan is around 90bps, bankers said.


Advisors JP Morgan, Royal Bank of Scotland and Morgan Stanley were joined by European banks BBVA, Banco Santander and Barclays; US banks Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Citigroup and Japanese lenders Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Mizuho, the two bankers said.

With a smaller bank group the mandated banks are also set to benefit from a larger share of bond fees if the acquisition goes through.

BNP Paribas’ decision not to join the loan at the top level is surprising, several bankers said, as the bank topped EMEA loan league tables at the end of June 2011 with 128 deals totalling $29 billion.

BNP was also the biggest arranger of loans in 2010, when its share of 200 deals came to $50 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Both BNP Paribas and Commerzbank could join the loan for a smaller amount if the loan is syndicated further, which depends on the success of SABMiller’s bid.

“This is a big surprise, particularly BNP, given its global strategy to use its sizeable balance sheet. In Euro terms it’s the biggest provider of credit and this shouldn’t be such an issue for a key client in a benchmark financing,” the senior banker said.

The loan includes an 18-month bridge loan to bond issue of around $8.5 billion and also includes three and five-year term and revolving facilities, one of the bankers said.

The loan will not fund until the acquisition closes which is not expected until mid-first quarter 2012, bankers said.