Qualcomm Buy of NXP Backed by $13.6 Billion Loan Financing

October 28, 2016, 11:05 PM UTC
General Views of Qualcomm
Photograph by Konrad Fiedler — Bloomberg/Getty Images

Bankers led by Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan are arranging $13.6 billion in loans supporting smartphone chipmaker Qualcomm’s $38 billion purchase of NXP Semiconductor, the largest ever in the semiconductor industry, sources familiar with the deal said.

The acquisition, announced on Thursday, is the latest in a burst of merger activity this month that will help lift U.S. investment banking fee income from four-year lows.

Qualcomm is in the market with a $4 billion three-year term loan to partially replace the loan component of an originally $13.6 billion bridge loan backing the acquisition. The remaining $9.6 billion is being syndicated as a bridge to capital markets issuance, which ultimately will be taken out as bonds.

The term loan portion of the bridge loan has been absorbed by the two lead banks and will not be syndicated, according to sources.

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Also in the market is a $5 billion revolving credit facility that refinances a $4 billion Qualcomm revolver set to expire in February 2020, the sources said.

“The acquisition finance loans are especially important to banks now, given weakness in the overall investment banking revenue pool,” said Jeff Nassof, a director at Freeman Consulting.

Banks underwriting the financing for the Qualcomm (QCOM) and NXP (NXP) deal will earn about $65 million to $70 million in upfront arranging fees, he said. The bridge alone would account for $35 million to $40 million of that income.

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A dry spell in the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) arena though most of this year has sapped bank fee income.

The $31.7 billion in year-to-date total U.S. investment fee income, which includes merger and acquisition advisory fees, equity and bond underwriting fees, as well as syndicated loan arranging fees, is down 18 percent from the same period last year and the lowest since 2012, according to Freeman Consulting.

Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan declined to comment on the financing for the deal, which will make Qualcomm the leading supplier to the automotive chips market.

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The merger deal spree kicked off last weekend by wireless giant AT&T. (T)

The biggest global acquisition of the year, AT&T’s planned buy of media company Time Warner (TWX) for $85.4 billion, which is expected to face considerable regulatory scrutiny, will spur the second-largest US bridge loan financing ever.

Bankers, led by Bank of America (BAC) Merrill Lynch and JP Morgan (JPM), would pull in $100 million to $130 million for arranging the $40 billion bridge, Freeman Consulting estimated.

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The 18-month bridge loan is expected to be split between a $30 billion commitment to issue bonds and $10 billion of term loan commitments, banking sources said.

Only the $49 billion bridge loan backing Verizon‘s (VZ) purchase in 2013 of British telecom Vodafone Groups stake in its US wireless business tops the expected AT&T/Time Warner bridge in the U.S. loan market.

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