Capital Markets

Bond Market Revives, for Real

The big players were in financial services, and the paper was high investment grade.
Stephen TaubMay 24, 2004

The bond market’s reawakening has turned into a full-fledged revival. In the latter part of last week, no fewer than five companies issued debt, raising a whopping $6.4 billion. That included three jumbo offerings.

Most of the issuers were financial-services giants, and all of the paper came with high investment-grade ratings. The biggest issue belonged to Australian banking giant Westpac Banking, which issued $1.5 billion of three-year floating rate notes in the private-placement market. That was twice the amount it originally planned to offer.

Credit Suisse First Boston, a unit of the Credit Suisse Group, sold $1.35 billion of five-year global notes, up from an originally planned $1 billion. The investment bank, which completed the deal itself, said the paper was priced to yield 4.751 percent, or 88 basis points over comparable Treasurys. It was rated Aa3 by Moody’s and A-plus by Standard & Poor’s.

Household Finance Corp., a unit of HSBC Holdings Plc, issued $1.25 billion of five-year notes, led by HSBC Securities. The notes were priced to yield 85 basis points over Treasurys.

Allstate Life Global Funding, a subsidiary of Allstate Life Insurance Co., trotted out $800 million of two-part medium-term notes; they consisted of $300 million of five-year notes and $500 million of seven-year notes.

Meanwhile, International Business Machines Corp. sold $500 million in five-year notes, led by Morgan Stanley and UBS Investment Bank. They were priced at 4.442 percent, or 60 points over Treasurys.

There was just one small dour note to dampen the euphoria. Last week marked the sixth straight week that investors yanked money out of junk bond mutual funds.