Cheung Kong (Holdings) yesterday signed a $2.15 billion syndicated loan - one of the biggest loans arranged this year. The loan - which was reportedly set at $1.5 billion last month - carries interest of 115 basis points over the Hong Kong interbank offered rate. Executive director Edmund Ip Tak-chuen said the charges were acceptable amid the present credit crunch and the decline in the property market. The loan was jointly arranged by lead managers China Construction Bank, BA Asia, Bank of America NT&SA, Banque Nationale de Paris HK, CEF Capital, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Citibank. Only one Japanese bank - Sanwa Bank - acted as co-arranger of the loan. Mr Ip said it was understandable only a limited number of Japanese banks were getting involved in deals as a result of Japan's economic downturn. He said the deal was successful although there was a lack of leading banks involved. 'We are happy to see many other national banks participating,' he said. Mr Ip also dismissed criticism the loan was relatively small taking into account the size of Cheung Kong's businesses. Under such tightened lending environment, the loan was sufficient, he said. Mr Ip said the loan would be used for general capital. Despite the high lending costs, bankers predicted Hong Kong companies would arrange loans for working capital. It is understood New World FirstBus is arranging a $1 billion loan, which is to be finalised in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, China Construction Bank general manager Mao Yumin said he believed the yuan would not be devalued this year.