Another muted primary-market session was enlivened by a $1.5 billion deal for Rolls–Royce, a name last seen in the U.S. debt markets more than two decades ago. The company, which sought to bolster its liquidity position amid share buybacks and capital-spending plans, launched $500 million of five-year notes at T+105 and $1 billion of 10-year notes at T+160, or firm to guidance ranges and substantially through initial whispers in the areas of T+137.5 and T+187.5, respectively.
Moody’s today noted that the company was motivated to capitalize on “historically low yields available in the U.S. bond market,” and said the ratings outlook at the A3 level was unaffected despite the attendant rise in leverage for the infrequent borrower.
The deal also came as the CDX IG 25 was, on net, little changed today in the 87.5 bps area, with most single-name constituents tighter for a second straight session, and with the index down from recent multiyear highs near 95 bps. But while the footing is firmer week to week, issuers unencumbered by earnings blackouts still have every reason to proceed with caution: many recent new issues continue to trade wide of issuance, including long-dated bonds placed by Hewlett Packard Enterprise in a $14.6 billion, curve-spanning offering backing its spin-off from the hardware business, a deal that the company was forced to pay 40-70 bps in new-issue concessions to clear.
Meantime, five-year CDS referencing the debt of DuPont rose 11% today to a four-year high in the mid-80 bps area, after the company yesterday said it would replace CEO Ellen Kullman with Tyco International Chairman Edward Breen, who was recently added to DuPont’s board amid what the company described as a “challenging environment” necessitating a “deep dive” into the company’s cost structure. The move dovetailed with steady pressure from activist investors to explore ways to unlock value, including via a possible breakup of the company. DuPont spreads vaulted higher from a low base in July 2013, after activist Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund Management took a big stake in the company, in what was considered a contributing factor in DuPont’s later decision to spin off its titanium dioxide unit to shareholders.
After inking a deal to acquire Pharmedium Healthcare for $2.575 billion, the five-year CDS referencingAmerisourceBergen was steady today in the 40 bps area, which is where it has been indicated throughout the year, trade data show. ABC in February placed a $1 billion offering backing its $2.5 billion acquisition of MWI Veterinary Supply, an animal-health distribution company.
Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services today affirmed the A- rating and stable outlook on ABC, citing expectations for a “modest” increase in leverage to 1.6x for fiscal 2016, pro forma for the latest acquisition, from 1.2x. ABC plans to secure a $1 billion, five-year term loan in support of the transaction, and will fund the balance with cash on hand and by utilizing its credit facility, the company said today.
Today’s only other primary-market highlight was provided by Royal Bank of Canada’s $1.75 billion offering of 2.1% covered bonds due October 2020, which was placed at 72 bps over mid-swaps, or 2.107%. The issue was printed in line with guidance and at the firm end of early whispers in the area of 75 bps plus mid-swaps. The new 2020 covered bonds were inked at levels above the Canadian bank’s last five-year secured offering, in January, when it placed a $2 billion offering of 1.875% covered bonds due February 2020 at mid-swaps plus 44, or 1.878%. – Staff reports