The Singapore-listed commodities trading company Noble Group closed a three-tranche revolving credit facility totally US$2.4bn in October last year.

The loans were launched at a target amount of US$1.8bn, but were substantially oversubscribed with the final size increased to US$2.4bn.

The transaction was one of the largest US dollar syndicated loans raised for a corporate in Asia Pacific in 2009. It is the largest syndicated facility raised to date by Noble, and the deal was oversubscribed by a third.

Furthermore, the facility featured the largest number of participants in any globally syndicated loan raised after the crisis, with a total of 63 banks from across the world participating in the deal.

It will be used by Noble to fund its generally working capital needs, and support its physical trading operations.

The facilities included an extension of Noble’s US$1.2bn committed unsecured revolving credit facility for an additional one and two years, originally signed in mid-2007, and a new 364-day US$600mn committed unsecured revolving credit facility.

Mandated lead arrangers on these facilities were Agricultural Bank of China, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, China Development Bank (Hong Kong branch), Commerzbank, DBS Bank, HSBC, ING Bank, JP Morgan, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Société Générale and Standard Chartered Bank.

The original mandate letter was signed in late August, with initial expectations that the facility would close by September 30.

The final bank syndicate includes financial institutions from 26 different countries or regions across five continents. A total of 63 institutions took part in the transactions.

The 364-day tranche pays a margin of 135 basis points (bp), with the top level all-in pricing set at 180bp. The two-year US$877.4mn portion (of which US$300mn is a term loan) pays 197.5bp, with top level all-in pricing of 242.5bp, and the three-year US$877.4mn tranche pays 250bp, with top level all-in pricing hitting 295bp.

Commenting on the success and popularity of the facility during syndication, Wildrik Deblank, group treasurer at Noble Group, remarks: “Noble is an appealing credit to bankers, as our main funding need is for working capital and trade support, and we are one of few public players amongst the commodity majors.

“Our (transparent) profile is gradually getting a following around the world, beyond being a household name in Asia.”

He adds that the market was anticipating upgrades from rating agencies – which happened in September 2009 from Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s. The various tenors on the different tranches also allowed a degree of flexibility to the lenders, with new lenders able to come onboard by joining a tranche with a relatively short maturity.
Deal information



Borrower: Noble Group
Amount: US$2.4bn
Mandated lead arrangers: Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, China Development Bank, Commerzbank, DBS, HSBC, ING, JP Morgan, RBS, Société Générale, Standard Chartered Bank.
Tenor: 1-3 years
Law firms: Allen & Overy (borrower); Clifford Chance (lenders)
Date signed: October 2009