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Ashland Plans $2.3 Billion Bond Offering to Prepay Secured Loans

Ashland Inc., the biggest producer of specialty paper-making chemicals, plans to sell as much as $2.3 billion of senior unsecured notes to prepay a portion of its secured loans.

The four-part offering will include debt maturing in 2016, 2018, 2022 and 2025, the Covington, Kentucky-based company said today in a statement. Proceeds from the sale, along with cash on hand, will be used to prepay a “significant portion” of the outstanding loans in its senior secured credit facility, Ashland said.

The company entered into a $3.9 billion credit facility in August 2011 with its purchase of International Specialty Products Inc., about $2.4 billion of which is outstanding in term loans due 2016 and 2018, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company had $488 million of cash on Dec. 31.

Ashland’s new 2022 notes will add to its $500 million of 4.75 percent securities sold in August, the company said. Those notes had dropped to 100.9 cents on the dollar to yield 4.63 percent yesterday, from as high as 105.25 cents on Jan. 28, before Ashland reported earnings that trailed analyst estimates, prices compiled by Bloomberg show.

Moody’s Investors Service graded the new debt Ba1, the ratings company said in a statement today.

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