* Fourteen banks including ANZ, Citi, JPMorgan committed to
* Loan agreement signing likely in next few days
* Loan size being increased from $3 bln after sweetened M&A
(Adds loan deal details, background)
By Carol Zhong and Prakash Chakravarti
HONG KONG, May 4 China's Ant Financial, an
affiliate of online shopping giant Alibaba Group, is
close to signing a $3.5 billion loan a part of which will help
fund its purchase of U.S. money transfer company MoneyGram
International, Thomson Reuters Basis Point reported.
Fourteen banks, including Australia and New Zealand Banking
Group, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Goldman
Sachs, HSBC, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan
, have committed to the loan, Basis Point reported.
The three-year syndicated term loan will replace a bridge
facility that backed Ant Financial's bid for MoneyGram, it
reported on Thursday, adding documentation of the loan is in
progress, with signing expected within the next few days.
Ant, valued at about $60 billion after a $4.5-billion
funding round in April 2016, is set for an initial public
offering (IPO), though it has not specified a timeframe or
Ant Financial declined to comment. Representatives for ANZ,
Citi, JPMorgan and HSBC also declined to comment, while Goldman
Sachs, Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley did not immediately
respond to an emailed request for comment.
For global banks, the loan is an opportunity to jostle for
position ahead of the IPO, a strategy that has paid off for
banks such as HSBC which was appointed a bookrunner on the
bumper Aramco IPO after gaining an advisory role on the Saudi
oil company's first ever sukuk issuance.
Reuters reported in February that Ant Financial, China's
most valuable online finance company, is in early stage talks
with banks to raise between $2 billion to $3 billion in debt to
fund acquisitions and foreign investments.
The loan size is being increased from $3 billion after the
Chinese online finance firm sweetened its bid for MoneyGram by
over a third, beating a rival offer from U.S.-based Euronet
Worldwide to gain approval from MoneyGram's board.
Ant hiked its bid for MoneyGram by 36 percent to $18 per
share in cash, valuing the target at around $1.2 billion and
beating Euronet's offer last month of $15.20 per share.
MoneyGram's global remittance channels for sending money
overseas would help Ant build a cross-border network after a
string of recent investments in Asia. But the deal must first
obtain approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the
(Additional reporting by Catherine Cadell and Sumeet
Chatterjee; Writing by Michelle Price; Editing by Clarence
Fernandez and Muralikumar Anantharaman)