First Union this week will launch syndication of a $215 million loan for Chesapeake, Va-based Dollar Tree Stores.Eric Koble, cfo, said the credit facilities will consist of a $50 million, 364-day revolver and a $165 million, five-year End Loaded Lease Financing tranche. Initial pricing on the loan is LIBOR plus 60 and will be based on a grid tied to total leverage. Koble said commitments on the facility are expected by the third week of February. FleetBoston Financial will act as syndication agent and SunTrust Bank as documentation agent, he added. Koble explained the facilities will refinance the company's existing $135 million, four-year revolver signed in 1997 and priced at LIBOR plus 55 basis points.
"We are not using the facility fully so we've re-characterized the line," Koble noted. He explained that the new credit allocates only $50 million rather than $135 million to the revolver used for general corporate purposes as the remaining $165 million is intended to function only as a synthetic lease facility--a tax-advantaged financing mechanism used to fund a trust set-up by the company. First Union replaces FleetBoston Financial as lead on the new loan, but Koble expects former participants Union Bank of California, Bank of America, and AmSouth Alabama to sign-on again. Koble said the company chose First Union as lead arranger because of the bank's more developed expertise with synthetic leases as the new credit is more heavily weighted in that area.