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CIT Group rebuffs Icahn, lines up $4.5 billion in credit

New facility will refinance a portion of lender's debt

Heath E. Combs -- Home Textiles Today, October 29, 2009

New York — Troubled lender CIT Group said Wednesday that it had expanded its current $3 billion senior secured credit facility by an additional $4.5 billion.

CIT, a major lender to the furniture industry, said in a press release that the new $4.5 billion loan would be secured by the same assets as the company's existing $3 billion facility.

The new borrowing will be used to refinance a portion of the company's secured debt, which may come due as a result of CIT's restructuring.

"This expanded credit facility will allow us to continue to serve our existing small business and middle market customers as we advance our restructuring plan," said Jeffrey Peek, chairman and CEO.

CIT has said for weeks that a pre-packaged bankruptcy is an option if its exchange offers failed.

The new financing announced Wednesday matures in 2012 and includes an option for CIT to extend all or part of it for an additional year.

CIT also said that while it had received letters of commitment from investor Carl Icahn to provide a $4.5 billion term loan, it hadn't received a signed credit agreement or evidence that Icahn could fund the commitment.

CIT's board of directors, which Icahn criticized sharply in one of his recent letters to bondholders, decided that the company's interests were better served by proceeding with the new facility. Bank of America served as the collateral and administrative agent for the new loan.

Icahn said CIT is overpaying for the credit facility as a way to curry favor with existing lenders by providing them with millions in fees.

CIT faces a Thursday deadline for the voluntary exchange offer it presented for another portion of its debt. The offer was designed to recapitalize the company's balance sheet, should it not file for bankruptcy protection.

The company said earlier this month that it must reduce its total debt by $5.7 billion.

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