Hutchison Whampoa has secured a keenly-priced 760 million euro (about HK$5.8 billion) five-year syndicated loan to part-pay for its US$1.3 billion acquisition of family-owned Dutch retailer Kruidvat. An official announcement on pricing of the two-tranche loan was due last night - but at the time of going to press sources close to the deal said that Hutchison would pay an interest rate of as little as 0.5 per cent over prevailing inter-bank rates. Rival bankers not included in the four-team co-ordinating syndicate complained that as sub-underwriters they stood to earn as little as 47.5 basis points on contributing to the loan, and said the co-ordinators would have difficulty laying-off their underwriting commitments at this price. Confirmation of the highly-competitive interest rate, as well as the broad hint that the earnings-positive acquisition was likely to be operated on a 50 per cent gearing ratio (half borrowings and half internal resources), was likely to be a positive for the group's share price, analysts said. The fund raising was also likely to help lift investor sentiment towards Hutchison which took a bruising after the group last week cancelled a proposed US$1.47 billion bond issue to fund its third-generation (3G) mobile services operations in Europe because of lukewarm investor interest. Underwriters to the syndicated loan - which will consist of a 550 million euro tranche and a US$210 million tranche - were anxious yesterday to draw a clear distinction between the loan and last week's failed bond issue. 'The bond which Hutch tried to launch invited investors to buy into 3G - and the market clearly has a particular opinion about 3G,' one banker said. 'This loan is to finance an acquisition in the retail market, and Hutch is a proven player in the market.' Interest will be payable at a 50- basis point premium to the US dollar or euro Libor rates, depending on the tranche. News of the loan was flagged before the market closed yesterday by debt markets newsletter Basis Point. Shares in the blue-chip conglomerate - which contributes a 7.23 per cent weighting to the Hang Seng Index, behind only HSBC and China Mobile - ended the day up 30 HK cents at HK$42.50. Basis Point said ABN Amro had been mandated as lead arranger and had engaged Bayerische Landesbank, ING Bank, and Rabobank as co-ordinating arrangers at all-in rates of between 45.5 and 47 basis points. The deal is fully underwritten.