Capital Markets

GE Is 60 Percent of the Way to Note-sale Goal

It says it already has raised $29 billion this year, with three offerings oversubscribed last week.
Stephen TaubJanuary 12, 2009

General Electric said it already had raised $29 billion this year, putting it more than 60 percent of the way toward its goal of $45 billion.

“There has been strong demand for GE’s debt, with all three offerings oversubscribed last week,” the conglomerate said on one of its Web sites, www.GEReports.com.

Two of the three deals were offered outside the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Guarantee’s Temporary Loan Guarantee Program (TGLP).

The company said it plans to use proceeds to meet its 2009 maturities and reduce its commercial paper balance.

Last week, General Electric Capital Corp. raised $10 billion in a four-part sale of notes, which Bloomberg News called the biggest offering of debt to be backed by the FDIC.

In early December it sold $6.5 billion of medium-term notes in four parts, up from an originally planned $5.5 billion. That sale also was guaranteed by the Federal TLGP. Then in mid-December, Standard & Poor’s revised its outlook on GE and units, including GE Capital Corp., to negative from stable on its AAA-rated debt. S&P further warned that it could downgrade the company from the exalted AAA level within two years. As the credit rating agency put it, there is at least a one-in-three possibility of a downgrade over that period.

S&P added, however, that supporting its continued higher ratings would be GE’s commitment to maintaining the highest credit quality; the still-solid prospects for many of its business segments, even in light of developing economic weakness; and the company’s ample financial flexibility.

In late October, General Electric sold commercial paper to the Federal Reserve in the first day of the Fed’s program to buy the short-term securities, marketwatch.com disclosed at the time, citing spokesman Russell Wilkerson said in a phone interview. The amount was not disclosed.