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UPDATE 1-RLPC: Fortescue sets launch of $4.5B loan

(Updates to include official price talk, commitment deadline.)

By Natalie Wright

NEW YORK, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Fortescue Metals , the fourth-largest iron ore producer in the world, is launching a $4.5 billion covenant-lite refinancing term loan, sources told Thomson Reuters LPC.

The five-year credit will launch at a bank meeting Wednesday. Credit Suisse and JP Morgan are joint lead arrangers of the deal, which will refinance existing debt via issuer FMG Resources.

Price talk on the loan is 475bp over Libor with a 1.25 percent Libor floor and a discount of 99 cents on the dollar. The loan will benefit from 101 soft call protection for the first year.

Commitments to the loan are due October 10. ANZ, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank and UBS are co-arrangers on the loan.

This morning, Fitch Ratings assigned a BBB- rating to the new senior secured credit. Fitch said the loan will be guaranteed by Fortescue Metals Group Limited and its subsidiaries, which represent more than 95 percent of the group's assets and net income.

Fitch said the senior unsecured creditors will not be impaired, because the new $4.5 billion credit is less than 2.0 times the company's expected Ebitda of $2.5 billion to $3 billion.

Fitch's corporate family rating on Fortescue Metals Group Limited is BB+. Corporate family ratings from Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's are Ba3/BB-, while facility ratings are Ba1/BB+.

In September, Fortescue announced an underwriting commitment from Credit Suisse and JP Morgan for a $4.5 billion, five-year secured credit. Also in September, Fortescue Metals Group reached an agreement with Leucadia National Corp, where Leucadia will redeem $715 million in unsecured notes. The redemption of the 2006 royalty note is subject to closing conditions, including the closing of the new $4.5 billion facility.

(Editing By Jon Methven)

((jonathan.methven@thomsonreuters.com))

Keywords: FORTESCUE LAUNCH