Basis point hk loan market hopes for return of a list credits

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Telephone Co Ltd is seeking a HK$6.5bn ($837.19 million) three-year loan, bringing some excitement to a market which has been waiting for "A-list credits" to return. Hong Kong top-tier credits had been shying away from the syndicated loan market, many of them deterred by higher pricing last year amid tightened liquidity and higher funding costs. Some turned to the more attractive bond market, while some chose bilateral loans or small club deals to pay less.

Hutchison Telephone too is seeking a club deal, according to sources. However, given the large loan size, the group of banks for the club is 10-strong. The 10 are Agricultural Bank of China Ltd , Bank of China Ltd , Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank SA, CIBC , DBS Bank, HSBC Holdings Plc , Mizuho Corporate Bank, Standard Chartered Plc , Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp and United Overseas Bank Ltd. Sources said gathering 10 banks is "a piece of cake" given this borrower's solid network of relationship banks and the fact that many lenders are hungry for top-tier names.

"Also, given that pricing would be reasonably higher now compared to pre-Lehman days, many would want to book the asset," one source said. Sources said the deal is split into a HK$3.6bn term loan and a HK$2.9bn revolving credit. Lenders to the club get an all-in of 200bp via a margin of 160bp over Hibor and a 120bp fee. The revolver comes with a 40bp commitment fee.

According to Thomson Reuters LPC data, the borrower has an existing HK$5bn three-year loan due this December that paid an all-in of about 120bp. BOC, CA-CIB, DBS, HSBC and SMBC were lenders to that deal from 2009. The last syndicated loan for a Hutchison Whampoa Ltd company was in March 2011 for Hutchison Ports Holdings Trust. HPH Trust got a US$3bn three-year financing that paid an all-in of 150bp via a margin of 120bp over Libor. Meanwhile, Hutchison Telephone's latest loan adds to a growing deal pipeline that could boost Hong Kong loan volume to over US$15bn this quarter. Besides the around HK$6bn Hutchison Telephone refinancing, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd is seeking a US$2bn bridge loan, and Noble Group Ltd's latest refi is expected to increase to at least US$2bn. Volume of more than US$15bn would be four times the first quarter's record low US$3.85bn. Hong Kong in the first quarter witnessed the biggest year-on-year contraction when volume dropped 62% from 1Q11's US$10.2bn.

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