First Data's acquisition by an affiliate of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) received domestic and US regulatory approval today.
In recent weeks, as the US sub-prime mortgage crisis spread to the wider credit markets, there has been
some speculation that the banks underwriting large leveraged deals such as KKR's $29billion acquisition of global credit card processor First Data would struggle to market the
Citigroup analysts estimate $330 billion in corporate-buyout debt is seeking investors in a market where credit has tightened. And amid this glut, the buy side is turning away from the covenant-lite structures traditionally associated with many private equity
But in the case of First Data, the company and KKR are both adamant that the deal will be complete by the end of September.
Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch all guaranteed short-term financing for the deal before the current credit crisis, and would be loathe to renege on their commitment completely.
But a source close to the deal told Finextra that the terms are still being discussed among the banks and KKR, and the timetable is unclear at this stage. Whether the deal will actually complete by September 30 will likely depend on market conditions.
There was some
good news on that front today, as the US equities market once again got excited by takeover talk (including
TD Ameritrade and E*Trade) and a generally positive outlook for economic prospects and corporate profitability.
But the credit market still has a fair way to go before it can talk of a recovery. And even if the current problems don't prove to be lasting, they will likely change the terms and pricing for any subsequent buyouts.