Global Business

Coca-Cola Joins Euro Bond Rush

The beverage company sold 8.5 billion euros worth of bonds, the largest ever by a U.S. issuer.
Matthew HellerFebruary 27, 2015
Coca-Cola Joins Euro Bond Rush

Joining a surge of U.S. firms attracted to European bond markets by record-low borrowing costs, Coca-Cola has sold 8.5 billion euros ($9.5 billion) worth of euro-denominated bonds, the largest-ever sale by a U.S issuer.

Thursday’s Coca-Cola deal boosted this week’s euro sales by U.S. borrowers to a record 14.6 billion euros, according to Bloomberg. Coca-Cola’s was also the second largest corporate deal in euro bonds since Roche Holding AG’s 11.25 billion euros in 2009.

“The sale attracted an extraordinary amount of investor demand with an order book in excess of 20 billion euros,” Brendan Hanley of Bank of America, one of the arrangers on the deal, told Bloomberg.

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U.S. borrowers have sold 27.4 billion euros of debt so far this year, the most for the period since 2007, as yields on benchmark European government bonds have kept falling amid concerns about economic growth. The European Central Bank is expected to begin a bond-buying stimulus program later this year, which may further depress yields.

“Selling bonds in euros makes sense for companies such as Coke that have large international footprints, because it allows them to better match liabilities with revenues in the same currency,” The Wall Street Journal noted. “Companies can also lower their borrowing costs by selling to a new set of buyers.”

For investors, corporate bonds of any sort offer more yield than what is available on much sovereign debt, and corporate bonds could become more in demand as the ECB starts its bond buying.

“If you’re a European investor, you’re almost desperate for credit product,” said Michael Temple, head of credit research and senior portfolio manager at Pioneer Investments.

Coca-Cola sold 2 billion euros of two-year and 4 1/2-year notes, and 1.5 billion euros of eight-year, 12-year, and 20-year bonds, Bloomberg reported. Other euro-denominated deals from U.S. companies this week included Priceline Group, AT&T, and Mondelez International.

An eight-year Coca-Cola euro bond carried a coupon of 0.75%. In comparison, similarly rated Chevron sold a seven-year bond earlier this week in the United States with a coupon of 2.411%.

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