Vimpelcom close to mandating US$4 bln loan

London–Russian telecom Vimpelcom is expected to mandate banks imminently to arrange a US$4 billion loan to part finance its US$6.6 billion takeover bid for Egypt's Orascom Telecom and Italy's Wind, two bankers said on Friday.

"It's tantalizingly close; the pens haven't hit the paper yet, but it's all been agreed," one of the sources said.

As previously reported, the US$4 billion bridge loan to bond issue will be used to finance the cash component of the acquisition of around US$2 billion and refinance US$2 billion of existing Vimpelcom debt, which is being moved from Vimpelcom BV to Vimpelcom OGSC.

The bridge loan is expected to be mandated to a group of three to six banks on aggressive terms for a company with a non-investment grade rating.

Vimpelcom is rated BB+ by Standard and Poor's and Ba2 by Moody's.

Vimpelcom is currently seeking to resolve the future of Orascom Telecom's Algerian telecom unit Djezzy.

The Algerian government may be close to appointing an adviser for the nationalization of Djezzy, while Orascom is eager for talks on valuation to start soon so it can settle how much Algeria will pay for Djezzy and whether some of Djezzy's equity can be transferred to Vimpelcom.  

Separately, Wind has completed its 3.93 billion euro (US$5.18 billion) loan and 2.7 billion euro high-yield bond refinancing.  

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