January 24, 2018 / 5:07 PM / in 9 months

Banks line up €7 billion for Akzo Nobel’s chemical unit

LONDON (Reuters) - Five banks have lined up approximately €7 billion-equivalent (6.13 billion pounds) of debt financing that will be offered to buyers in a potential sale of Akzo Nobel’s (AKZO.AS) chemicals business, banking sources said.

General view of the outside of AkzoNobel's new paint factory in Ashington, Britain September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Bank of America Merrill Lynch, HSBC, JP Morgan, Natwest and Societe Generale are offering a staple financing to potential buyers that equates to 6.25 times the division’s approximate €1bn Ebitda, the sources said.

The staple financing comprises just over €6bn-equivalent of funded debt and around €1bn of undrawn facilities, the sources said.

The funded debt includes a combination of senior leveraged loans and subordinated high-yield bonds, denominated in both euros and dollars, in a bid to maximise access to liquidity, the sources added.

A divestment of the unit is part of an effort to placate investors after the Dutch paintmaker rejected a takeover offer from rival PPG Industries (PPG.N) last year.

The sale has attracted a lot of interest from private equity and strategic buyers and final bids are due by March 23, the sources said.

A spokesperson for Akzo said the process was ongoing and the company planned to either sell or seek a separate stock market listing for the division by mid-April. They also said there were three to four interested bidders.

At 6.25 times, the staple financing is competitive, several sources said.

It follows a 7.0 times staple being offered by JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley to back a potential sale of French drug maker Sanofi’s European generic drug business, known as Zentiva.

Staple financings give potential buyers comfort they can finance a bid, they have however been traditionally seen as something to beat by other non-staple banks.

“Staples are usually seen as a first stab and open to competition for more aggression from other banks,” a syndicate head said.

However, at 6.25 times and 7.0 times, the staples being offered on Akzo’s and Sanofi’s divisions are highly viable financing options, the sources said.

Chemicals account for a third of Akzo’s sales and earnings and its value is estimated at roughly €9bn.

Editing by Christopher Mangham

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