China search engine giant Baidu seeks US$1 billion five-year loan

[HONG KONG] Baidu Inc, owner of China's biggest search engine, is seeking a US$1 billion loan.

The company, founded by billionaire Robin Li, aims to borrow the funds through a five-year syndicated facility, according to Tracy Hu, a media official at the firm. Ms Hu didn't comment on any further details.

China's Internet giants are providing a haven for investors fleeing mounting default risks among the nation's state-owned enterprises.

Creditors have grown wary of state-backed firms after Moody's Investors Service cut its outlook on 38 of them along with the government in March. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, China's biggest e-commerce company, started to syndicate a loan of as much as US$4 billion last month, separate people said at the time.

Citigroup Inc, Deutsche Bank AG and HSBC Holdings Plc have underwritten the loan, people familiar with the matter said earlier. The borrowing, which pays an interest margin of 110 basis points more than the London interbank offered rate, comprises a US$500 million term loan and a US$500 million revolving facility, according to the people, who aren't authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be identified.

Baidu is offering an all-inclusive fee of 124 basis points over Libor for banks committing US$150 million or more to the loan, and 122 basis points to lenders putting in US$100 million to US$149 million, the people said.

The fees include a 5-basis-point early bird fee that banks committing to the facility by May 6 will get. Baidu will meet with banks for the loan on April 14 in Hong Kong, they said.

Alibaba was offering an all-inclusive fee of 123 basis points more than London interbank offered rate for banks committing US$200 million or more to its up to US$4 billion five- year loan, people familiar with the matter said last month.

That makes it the lowest priced loan for a Chinese technology company this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.



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