Loan Ranger: From eggstacy to eggquality
Glorious weather across much of Europe last week coincided with glorious events in the loan market, amid an M&A mystery and a triumph for sexual equality.
After galloping around the sunny plains over the long Easter weekend, Loan Ranger’s working week began on Tuesday morning with a gentle canter through London. The balmy streets were abuzz with people rolling back into work slightly redder of face, some shoving away the last of their Easter eggs and Lindt bunnies as they were harangued by more energetic, upbeat types to sign away their post-chocolate guilt with gym memberships.
But in the world of loans the mysteries of Easter week were far from over. The chocolate egg haze was broken by Shell’s £47bn buyout of BG Group, but for a while afterwards bankers professed confusion about whether there would be a loan and what form it would take.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch, it seemed, was keeping this one very much under wraps.
“I have absolutely no idea,” said one loans official from another house, while another said, “I’m confident they can pay for this with cash.”
For others, jubilation at the deal turned to dismay as rumours circulated that it would contain only partial loan financing.
“Everyone looked at Shell and went 'Wow!' but then, 'Oh! Only a £3bn bridge',” one banker told Loan Ranger. “People were hopeful that this would create much more of a loan.”
Another official went as far as to decry the deal as a “loss for the loan market”.
Imagine then, if you will, these doubters' delight when BAML finally pulled back the curtain to reveal a £13bn syndication. It was enough to send European bankers – who have not had much M&A action to cheer them so far in 2015 – skipping like rabbits and gambolling like spring lambs.
But the M&A fun did not stop there. Another loan in the headlines was ChemChina’s €6.8bn loan for the acquisition of Pirelli.
One might expect Pirelli, the Italian tyre maker, and ChemChina, the Chinese chemical company, to struggle to find middle ground for the merger.
But the Loan Ranger has unearthed a shared interest for the two companies.
Both ChemChina and Pirelli are committed to promoting women’s issues, both on the factory floor and in the garage.
ChemChina hosted a discussion session in March for its female workforce to discuss their efficiency and empowerment in the workplace.
The press release on the company website tells how a majority of the women indicated that "women are careful, patient and rigorous so that they are not outperformed by men in financial statistics," while they can "more than 'hold up half the sky' when it comes to service delivery".
However, the women admitted that “in certain regards they fall behind and need to learn from their male colleagues” and they “should have mature thinking rather than girlish thoughts”.
Pirelli is also renowned for its stance on gender. The company’s annual calendar is a platform for high-profile female role models. In a boost for equality for all sizes, this year’s calendar features its first plus-size model - as part of a fetish-themed shoot.
Loan Ranger cannot be sure of the exact content of the calendar since its website is blocked by the GlobalCapital firewall for unknown reasons - perhaps its dangerous feminist content.