Hutchison Whampoa is said to be thinking about taking another crack at the bond markets in an effort to raise US$1.5 billion to take advantage of lower interest rates, according to a banker. Poor market conditions in October forced it to give up similar plans. At the same time, fellow Hong Kong blue-chip PCCW was said still to be working on arrangements for a five-year club loan to refinance the US$900 million final tranche of its US$4.7 billion loan. Five banks - Deutsche Bank, HSBC Holdings, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch - are believed to be pitching for Hutchison's US$1.5 billion bond, according to weekly capital magazine IFR. The first three banks were arrangers for the company's loan in early October, when Hutchison was forced by weak market conditions to call off the launch of one billion euros in euro-denominated bonds and ?300 million in sterling debt and priced near its bonds maturing in 2011. Hutchison group finance director Frank Sixt said poor market conditions made it unwise at that time to push the deal any further, although speculation then had it that there was not enough investor interest in the bonds, in part because of reservations about the company's plans for third-generation (3G) services in Europe. Now, as Hutchison prepares for a soft launch of its 3G services and after the European Central Bank cut interest rates this month, Hutchison is looking to come back again with the same deal, hoping the timing is better. A banker involved in the deal said, however, a launch was unlikely before the end of the year. A Hutchison spokesman offered no information about the deal. Meanwhile, a small group of banks is working on the PCCW five-year club loan deal, co-ordinated by Standard Chartered, according to another weekly magazine, Basis Point. It said PCCW Ltd, the parent and holding company, instead of PCCW-HKT, was likely to raise the refinancing. But the size of the deal would depend on interest from underwriters. The report said it was unlikely the company could get the full US$900 million equivalent it was seeking. It also said that because the holding company was considered to be less credit-worthy than its main subsidiary, bankers expected all-in pricing to be at least 100 basis points over Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate). It now pays about 145 basis points over Libor for US dollars and 155 over Hibor for Hong Kong dollars on the tranche it is expected to refinance.