February 15, 2018 / 3:08 PM / 6 months ago

LPC-"800lb gorilla" Unilever deal schedules Monday bank meeting

Feb 15 (LPC) - Bank meetings for Unilever’s €4.6bn-equivalent leveraged loan deal are scheduled for Monday and Wednesday in London and New York, respectively, as the market gears up for one of the biggest post-crisis European leveraged buyout loans.

The highly anticipated term loan comprises a €2bn tranche and a €600m-equivalent dollar-denominated tranche, alongside a €500m-equivalent Polish zloty tranche and a €800m-equivalent sterling tranche.

All four term loans have a seven-year maturity and have six months soft call protection at 101.

Some €1.050bn of senior unsecured bonds are also expected for the deal. The financing also comprises a €700m 6.5-year revolving credit facility.

One banker on the deal dubbed it the “800lb gorilla” and expected it to receive full attention from participants throughout the market.

It launches at a time when the market is relatively quiet. Despite a busy January, when the market processed a large number of leveraged loans, supply has since waned, with only a handful of deals.

Pricing on the euro term loan is expected with a three handle, the sources said.

The facilities have expected ratings of B1/B+/BB-, with the corporate family rating expected at B1/B+/B+.

Commitments are due on Tuesday March 6.

KKR agreed to buy the unit for €6.83bn, it was announced in December, backed with a €5.65bn-equivalent leveraged loan and bond financing.

The unit is to set to be renamed the Flora Food Group, according to banking sources.

Although the pipeline is building, it is unlikely that Unilever will experience competition from any of the larger loans still to be syndicated.

A £2.35bn loan backing multinational sports betting and gaming group GVC Holdings’ acquisition of UK betting group Ladbrokes Coral, is not set to launch until early March.

“Unilever is so large it would command attention no matter what else is happening in the market. It is what everyone has been waiting for, however it so happens the market is relatively quiet which is going to help it even more,” a syndicate head said.

Deutsche Bank and KKR Capital Markets are leading the debt financing, alongside Credit Suisse on the dollar tranche.

BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, ING, Lloyds, Mizuho, RBC, Societe Generale and UniCredit are bookrunners.

Commerzbank, Mbank, Mediobanca, Rabobank, Raiffeisen are mandated lead arrangers.

The loans are being issued through Sigma Bidco BV and Sigma US Corp.

The brands of the margarine and spreads business include Becel, Flora, Country Crock and Blue Band. (Editing by Christopher Mangham)

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