Hutchison Whampoa Ltd has launched a $3 billion financing facility for Hutchison Ports Holdings Trust (HPH Trust) in a move to leverage the port unit ahead of its Singapore listing, Basis Point reported.

The ports-to-telecom conglomerate, which aims to raise $6 billion by grouping its deepwater container ports assets in Hong Kong and in Guangdong province under HPH Trust for a separate Singapore listing, has invited about a dozen banks to join the sub-underwriting of the loan facility, it said.

The credit line will be extended via Hongkong International Terminals Ltd, Hutchison’s flagship port operating arm in Hong Kong, and guaranteed by HPH Trust, reported Basis Point, Thomson Reuters loans reporting group, citing unidentified banking sources.

Banks are currently invited to join the facility for either a commitment of $300 million on an underwritten basis; or a $250 million ticket on a take-and-hold basis.

Price talk on the deal is at an all-in of over 100 basis points, compared with 90 basis points all-in paid on the recently closed 600 million euro, five-year financing for Hutchison’s retail and manufacturing unit AS Watson.

DBS Bank , Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs , which are the joint bookrunners and issue managers for the HPH Trust spin-off, are also arrangers for the loan facility.

Responses for the loan facility are due by the end of February and a general syndication is expected once the sub-underwriting is completed.

Unlike with real estate investment trusts, there is no restriction on the gearing ratio in Singapore-listed business trusts, and the loan proceeds will allow HPH more capital for its investments in ports and infrastructure assets.

Hutchison has been an active player in the loan market. The AS Watson deal marked its second loan-market foray in 2010 as the group extends the tenor of its debt that matures in the next two years. According to Thomson Reuters data, the Hutchison group has $4.24 billion-equivalent in loans due in 2013.

Among the Hutchison deals due for refinancing in 2011 are a HK$9 billion five-year term loan at the holding company level that matures in September; a HK$5.5 billion three-year HIT deal guaranteed by Hutchison Port Holdings Ltd that matures in October; and a HK$2 billion five-year financing for River Trade Terminal Co Ltd that matures in September. (Reuters)