Early bird specials

General Healthcare Group, owned by a consortium including South Africa’s Netcare and sponsors Apax, have mandated Bank of Scotland to arrange debt backing the £140m acquisition of nine hospitals from Nuffield Hospitals. Mizuho has joined as an MLA ahead of general syndication.

The hospitals will form part of BMI Healthcare, GHG’s acute care private hospital division. GHG is the largest independent hospital group in the UK and the leading provider of private acute care.

With the credit squeeze tightening debt markets but so far leaving equity valuations high, such bolt-on deals are likely to become a mainstay of new deal activity, offering industrial logic and synergies as well as debt financing prospects.

General Healthcare Group was acquired in a 2006 tertiary buyout backed by £1.815bn of debt. Debt, via Barclays, comprised an opco/propco structure with £315m of the debt held at the operating company level and £1.65bn at the property company level.

Credit Mutuel-CIC (physical bookrunner) and Natixis have underwritten the €85m senior debt package supporting LFPI and FPG’s buyout of Nobel Explosifs Frances as well as the refinancing of Finexplo.

Debt is split between a €46m seven-year term loan A paying 212.5bp over Euribor, a €19m eight-year term loan B at 275bp, a €15m nine-year term loan C at 325bp and a €5m seven-year revolver at 200bp.

In addition, there is a €35m 9-1/2-year mezzanine loan arranged through LFPI Mezzanine. The deal closed on December 20 with Credit Mutuel-CIC underwriting 60% and Natixis taking the balance. General syndication is slated for launch in the first quarter of 2008.

LFPI and FPG acquired Finexplo in 2004 in a secondary buyout. The duo later acquired Nobel Explosifs France from Groupe SNPE through a newly created holding company called Explinvest. The group supplies the civil explosives market in France and Belgium.

UniCredit has been mandated to arrange a €184.5m senior debt package supporting Synergo, Banca Leonardo and IGI‘s buyout of Valvitalia.

Syndication will be targeted at Italian relationship lenders and is expected to be launched at the end of January.

The loan comprises a seven-year €50.5m amortising term loan A paying 225bp over Euribor, an eight-year €49.5m term loan B paying 275bp, a nine-year €49.5m term loan C paying 325bp and a seven-year €35m revolver paying 225bp.

Valvitalia produces high pressure valves and fittings, primarily for the oil and gas industries.

The sponsors acquired a 45% stake in the company. The founder retained a 51% stake, with the remaining 4% held by management.

January is likely to see the launch of the €1bn plus package for Belgian cable business Telenet, via ABN AMRO, BNP Paribas and JPMorgan. The all-senior facilities will recapitalise the business, which is 49.7% owned by Liberty Global.

The end of the month is also likely to see the launch of €565m debt backing TdF’s buyout of Deutsche Telekom‘s Media & Broadcast unit. BNP Paribas and Goldman Sachs are mandated as physical bookrunners with ABN AMRO, Calyon, Dexia and SG as bookrunners and MLAs.