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Debt Deluge at Anadarko

Updated from 2:25 p.m. EDT

The $24 billion financing package Anadarko Petroleum (APC) scored for this morning's acquisition spree isn't for the faint of heart.

On Friday, the company unveiled plans to purchase Kerr-McGee (KMG) and Western Gas Resources (WGR) in two separate transactions that total $23.3 billion. Currently, Anadarko plans to pay for the acquisitions with a 364-day credit facility provided by its two advisers, UBS and Credit Suisse, and a third party, Citigroup.

Credit market sources say the loan probably will be short-term financing, requiring Anadarko, a $20.5 billion market-cap oil and gas driller based in Woodlands, Texas, to replace it during the next year with syndicated bank debt or bonds, or both. Such a structure isn't unusual for an investment grade company doing a deal of this size.

The company is going to do a number of things to finance the acquisition, a spokeswoman said. Divestitures, debt and equity issuance are possibilities. "But none of it has been decided yet," according to the spokeswoman.

Given the uncertain rate environment, could Anadarko find itself backed into a corner by waiting to refinance?

"The corporate bond market has been struggling lately," notes Edward Marrinan, head of credit strategy at JPMorgan Securities. "Valuations for all risky assets have backed up since the middle of May. The primary market has been offering price concessions to get deals done at the same time that secondary market participants have turned risk averse.

"In general, investors are not as willing to provide the pricing and structure on the terms that the issuers had become accustomed to during the last few years," Marrinan says.

Over the next few months, or course, bond markets could go either way. Although demand remains brisk for investment-grade debt like Anadarko's, it could waver depending on comments from the Federal Reserve meeting next week. If the Fed is dovish and economic indicators point to a soft landing, the bond market is likely to stay strong. But if the Fed continues to signal interest rate hikes, and debt becomes more expensive, Anadarko's $24 billion deal could become a costly one.

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