| LONDON, April 7
LONDON, April 7 French cable company
Numericable's acquisition of Vivendi's
telecom unit SFR is backed by 16.5 billion euros ($22.59
billion) of debt financing, banking sources said on Monday.
Numericable won a fiercely-contested month-long bidding
battle against French rival mobile operator Bouygues for SFR on
Numericable's offer consists of 13.5 billion euros in cash,
a 20 percent stake in the combined entity and a potential
milestone payment. [ID: nL6N0MY0VJ]
Private equity firms Cinven and Carlyle also agreed to
exchange their combined 35 percent holding in Numericable for
cash and shares in Altice.
Barclays, Credit Agricole, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank,
Goldman Sachs, ING, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley have
underwritten a covenant-lite debt financing to fund
BNP Paribas is also likely to join the bank group, banking
Numericable was not immediately available for comment.
The use of covenant-lite financing, which offers investors
fewer protections, on such a large deal is a landmark for the
European leveraged loan market, which has previously resisted
the adoption of the US-style structure.
Numericable's covenant-lite loan follows hard on the heels
of the first all-European covenant-lite loan for French
veterinary pharmaceutical firm Ceva Sante Animale.
The financing package will be a mix of syndicated loans and
bonds, which will be denominated in euros and dollars. The debt
has various maturities but has an average maturity of seven
The financing includes 11.65 billion euros of funded debt at
Numericable and SFR operating company level which will be split
between term loan B debt and senior secured bonds and will be
sold to fund investors.
As well as the funded debt, a 750 million euro revolving
credit has also been included at the operating company level,
which is being sold to banks, banking sources said.
The deal also includes 4.15 billion euros of bonds at
Altice's holding company level, banking sources said.
Cable group Altice is the holding company of founder Patrick
Drahi, Numericable's largest shareholder.
The financing is expected to be launched in a wider selldown
to investors this week. The deal is expected to be popular with
investors which have excess liquidity due to a lack of new
European buyouts in 2014 so far.
Numericable will also launch a rights issue worth up to 4.7
billion euros to help fund its acquisition of SFR, which will be
guaranteed by Altice. [ID: nL6N0MY0VJ]
($1 = 0.7303 Euros)
(Editing by Tessa Walsh)