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Bayer signs $14.2 billion acquisition loan

By Alasdair Reilly

LONDON (Reuters) - Bayer has signed a $14.2 billion acquisition loan backing its purchase of U.S.-based Merck's consumer care business, the lead banks said in a statement on Wednesday.

The loan was underwritten on an equal basis by mandated lead arrangers and bookrunners Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas and Mizuho Bank and saw strong support from Bayer's core relationship banks with 23 banks joining in syndication.

Mandated led arrangers were BBVA, Santander, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Barclays, Citigroup, Commerzbank, Credit Agricole CIB, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JP Morgan, RBS, Societe Generale, SMBC and Unicredit.

Lead arrangers were ANZ, Bank of New York Mellon, BayernLB, ING, Intesa SanPaolo, Helaba and SEB.

The financing comprises a $12.2 billion bridge to capital markets facility and a $2 billion medium-term facility. The one-year bridge loan pays 25 basis points (bps) over Libor, while the four-year facility pays 50 bps, as previously reported.

The bridge loan is expected to be taken out in the capital markets through a combination of senior and hybrid corporate bonds.

The financing is Bayer's largest loan financing since its 16.5 billion euro ($22.35 billion) acquisition of domestic rival Schering in 2006, which was funded with a 7 billion euro syndicated loan and a 7 billion euro bridge loan via Citigroup and Credit Suisse.

Bayer is rated A- by Standard & Poor's, A3 by Moody's and A by Fitch.

(Editing by Christopher Mangham)