Buyers Raise Loan for Rete Gas Buy

LONDON (Reuters) – Investment fund F2i and AXA Private Equity are close to securing a 1.025 billion euro ($1.4 billion) loan to back their acquisition of Italian utility Enel’s gas distribution unit Rete Gas, two sources said on Friday.

Enel SpA (ENEI.MI) sold an 80 percent stake in Rete Gas in a cash-and-debt deal valued at around 1.2 billion euros on Friday.

The proceeds of the sale will be used to repaying Enel’s debt, according to the company. [ID:nL505971]

F2i and AXA Private Equity are in advanced talks with 12 banks on an infrastructure-style loan, which typically features a high equity component and longer-dated maturities, and are close to signing the five-year deal.

The loan includes a “mini perm” clause in year three that will encourage the prompt refinancing of the loan, the two bankers said.

Banks close to the deal include BNP Paribas, Calyon, HSBC, IntesaSanPaolo, JP Morgan, Natixis, Merrill Lynch, Santander, Societe Generale, Mediobanca, Monte dei Paschi di Siena Bank and UniCredit, one of the bankers said.

The banks have signed commitment letters but the documentation of the loan has not yet been finalised, he added.

“The banks have come in with amounts they were comfortable with, and have been reduced,” one banker said.

The loan is not expected to be syndicated further, but a wider syndication has not been entirely ruled out. (Reporting by Zaida Espana; Editing by David Holmes)