Western Wireless Corp. tapped Wachovia Securities over previous lead TD Securities to lead its latest $1.5 billion credit facility, which pushes out maturities and refinances existing debt. "We switched banks because we felt like Wachovia has very strong capitalization in this market and Toronto Dominion was not so focused in telecom lending," said Steve Winslow, treasurer of Western Wireless. Market participants noted that TD has deemphasized lending to the telecoms sector after being burned in 2002 from loan losses. A co-lead spokeswoman did not return calls.
The new facility includes a $225 million, six-year "A" loan; $975 million, seven-year term loan "B"; and $300 million, six-year revolver. J.P. Morgan is syndication agent and Deutsche Bank and Société Générale are co-documentation agents. "We hired Wachovia as our administrative agent and J.P. Morgan as our co-lead and asked them to manage the syndication process consistent with their roles." Both J.P. Morgan and Wachovia participated in Western Wireless' previous facility. Winslow declined to comment on whether TD bid to lead the deal or whether the bank is participating in the new facility.
According to Winslow, the new facility will provide Western Wireless with meaningfully extended maturities and reasonable flexibility to invest in its domestic and international business without significant changes in pricing. "Western Wireless felt like market conditions were conducive to meeting these objectives," Winslow noted. The company's "A" and "B" loans are priced at LIBOR plus 2 1/4% and LIBOR plus 3%, respectively.