Trlpc lenders welcome european leveraged loan wave

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Jan 12 About 7.5 billion euros ($8.85 billion) of event-driven loans will be syndicated over the next couple of weeks, in the best start to the year for Europe's leveraged loan market since the financial crisis. Some 15 financings will be syndicated as banks take advantage of strong liquidity and investor appetite for deals, continuing the momentum built during December when a flurry of deals were sold in an end of year push."It is hard to remember other Januarys being as good for a long time. Overall, it is a very positive start to the year with a healthy pipeline. Investors have funds to invest, so it is a good time to bring a deal," a loan banker said. The financings all vary in size and currencies, offering investors a lot of choice. Deals include cross-border loans, pure European loans, sterling loans and carve-outs on US dollar deals."There is a lot of choice for investors as there are a lot of deals in the market. Most deals are pretty high quality and a good size, which is positive," a second loan banker said.

The biggest deals include a 1.325 billion euros cross-border financing for Austrian flexible packaging group Constantia Flexibles, which is expected to be shown to investors at a bank meeting during the week of January 19 and a 2.265 billion euros cross-border loan for Swiss packaging group SIG Combibloc that will launch during the same week. A bank meeting for the euro loan portion of a wider $795 million debt financing backing the acquisition of US-based ANGUS Chemical took place on January 8 and was well attended, despite the euro portion being small at $150 million-equivalent. It is a good sign for the euro and sterling carve-outs for Dutch software company Exact, UK software and IT services company ACS and chemical manufacturer Platform Specialty Products Corp which will all be shown to investors this week.

Other IT and technology names set to come to market include domain and hosting company Host Europe Group, online betting business Sky Bet and the public-sector division of British software firm Northgate Public Services. Elsewhere, German utility E. ON's Spanish and Portuguese operations, German elevator components maker Wittur, Norwegian technology firm Evry, Reckitt Benckiser's pharmaceuticals business Indivior and UK safety and survival equipment maker Survitec are also due to launch for syndication.

PRICING IT RIGHT With so many deals, bankers will be cautious on pricing in order to sell them quickly and avoid making costly changes. Syndication of Southern European car rental company Goldcar and telecoms masts group TDF's German subsidiary Media Broadcast continued syndication into January after failing to attract investors before Christmas. However, if all the deals syndicate successfully, it could lead to a far more bullish market when the next batch of deals launch."The loan market feels strong but in a sensible way - it is not frothy. There is a lot of deal flow and people want to do deals but bankers will be a bit careful and won't want to push pricing. If the deals fly out of the door, there will be more bullish behaviour to follow. For now it is strong and steady as no one wants to screw up in January," the second banker said. ($1 = 0.8475 euros)