The bank financing worth 4.4 billion euros ($4.74 billion) - a large chunk of its total needed investment estimated at just over 7 billion euros - was one of the largest debt fundraising operations ever carried out in the European automotive sector, ACC, also known as Automotive Cells Company, said.

"This deal with the banks reflects the very high level of confidence of these lenders in the ACC project," Yann Vincent, managing director of ACC, told Reuters.

French lender BNP Paribas acted as exclusive financial adviser to ACC. The financing deals were struck with a consortium of banks including BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, ING, Intesa Sanpaolo, the French public bank Bpifrance, insurer Euler Hermes and the Italian export insurer SACE.

The money will fund the construction of four new ACC production lines - a second one in France, a first one in Kaiserslautern in Germany, and two in Termoli in Italy.

They come on top of the company's first production unit producing lithium-ion batteries in Billy-Berclau in northern France, which was opened last year.

The financing, which adds to public subsidies already granted or committed, will be supplemented by new cash injections from the three shareholders of ACC of an unspecified amount, the company said.

As a result, Stellantis will hold a 45% stake in ACC at the end of March, Mercedes-Benz will hold 30% and Saft, owned by oil giant TotalEnergies, 25%.

($1 = 0.9275 euros)

(Writing by Tassilo Hummel; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

By Gilles Guillaume