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A select group of relationship banks are being offered US$1bn tickets in a US$13.5bn bridge loan backing the acquisition of Refinitiv by London Stock Exchange Group, banking sources said on Tuesday. Barclays, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have underwritten the bridge loan supporting the US$27bn acquisition, which is due to wrap up syndication next week, the sources said.

The acquisition, which will be financed with newly issued shares, will replace Refinitiv's existing leveraged debt with a corporate financing, reflecting LSE's investment-grade credit rating. "It is a regular way investment-grade bridge syndication to relationship banks," a banker said. LSE was not immediately available to comment. The loan will refinance US$13.5bn of leveraged loans and bonds that backed a US$20bn purchase of a majority stake in the data company 10 months ago by a consortium led by US private equity firm Blackstone.

The bridge loan is intended to be taken out entirely by bonds, but not until the fourth-quarter of next year, or even the first-quarter of 2021, LPC reported previously. That timing will be determined by the close of the acquisition. Refinitiv, the parent company of LPC, was created last year when a Blackstone-led consortium bought a 55% stake in Thomson Reuters' Financial & Risk business in the largest leveraged buyout since the financial crisis. Thomson Reuters owns the remaining 45% stake. LSE's last corporate loan was provided by Banco Santander, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Barclays Bank, HSBC, Royal Bank of Canada and Royal Bank of Scotland, according to LPC data.

Copyright Reuters, 2019

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