Berkshire Hathaway to Join Global Debt Bonanza

(Bloomberg) -- Repsol SA is the latest oil major to head to Europe's debt market for fresh financing, with other large borrowers piling in as measures of credit stress ease for the first time in four days.

Eight issuers including Sanofi and LafargeHolcim Ltd will raise at least 6.5 billion euros ($7 billion) on Monday, with Repsol following BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and OMV AG in to the market. The strong start to a holiday-shortened week for sales comes as a gauge of European credit risk fell after Germany saw the lowest number of new coronavirus cases in six days and U.S. President Donald Trump said he sees signs the pandemic is beginning to level off in the U.S.

"One usually should expect a seasonal slowdown in activity, yet with most people in lockdown, it rather feels like a week of business as usual," said Armin Peter, global head of debt syndicate at UBS Group AG.

Steady sales

Repsol International Finance BV is offering two euro notes on Monday, including a 10-year tranche marketed at about 275 basis points above midswaps, according to a person with knowledge of the sale, who asked not to be identified citing internal company policy. That compares to spreads of 190 and 280 basis-points that better-rated peers Shell and BP paid to sell 12-year euro notes on April 2, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Paris-based Sanofi is tapping two existing euro-denominated notes, while sovereigns Ireland and Slovenia are set to follow Latvia in to the euro market after hiring banks for sales. Latvia is raising euro debt today for the second time in as many weeks as it seeks to secure funding for stimulus efforts to counter the coronavirus outbreak.

Monday's deals may set the tone for the rest of the week, as market participants surveyed by Bloomberg News don't expect the usual Easter slowdown in activity this year, with borrowers keen to get deals done while they can.

"We expect primary to remain busy this week despite what would usually be the calm Easter holiday period," Commerzbank AG strategists wrote in a note to clients. "Risks remain elevated, and unlike in other market phases the surge in issuance merely reflects issuers' desperation to collect liquidity during an issuance window of uncertain length which could also close again quite abruptly."

In Asia, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is set to join the record bonanza of corporate debt sales with a multi-tranche sale of yen-denominated bonds maturing in as long as 40 years later this week. The conglomerate is offering 10-year notes with a spread of 100-110 basis points, about double the 50 basis points it paid to sell similar-maturity notes in September.

The deals come as corporate credit risk begins to nudge lower after ballooning during March. Spreads on euro-denominated high-grade company bonds have also ticked lower after surging 124 basis points last month, according to a Bloomberg Barclays index. The Markit iTraxx Asia ex-Japan index of credit-default swaps declined about 3 basis points Monday, according to traders.

Paying up

Borrowers have been undeterred by a spike in financing costs sparked by the coronavirus pandemic, with risks still abounding as U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was hospitalized after failing to recover from the virus. The number of confirmed global cases is nearing 1.3 million, with the death toll topping 69,000, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Many firms are building cash buffers to tide them over as the pandemic makes global recession certain, and others are expanding reserves for acquisitions. Worldwide debt sales blasted past a record $200 billion last week, with Oracle Corp. pricing a $20 billion offering and T-Mobile US Inc. raising $19 billion to help finance the acquisition of Sprint Corp.

"Issuers continue to have to pay up for the privilege of bringing new deals," said Tomas Hirst, a strategist at CreditSights Inc.


Corporates are leading at least 6.5 billion euros ($6.5bn) of Monday sales, with Repsol, Sanofi, LafargeHolcim and Naturgy Finance all offering high-grade euro notesBlackrock strategists say the outlook for credit has improved due to the unprecedented central bank action to tackle coronavirus, and it sees room for outperformance in corporate debtStill, the ECB's latest QE bazooka is proving a double-edged sword for the market: companies are flocking to raise new debt, but the supply gut is keeping bond spreads elevatedPeugeot maker PSA is the latest auto-sector name to raise financing, as it signed a 3 billion-euro 12-month deal, adding to an undrawn credit line of the same sizeEngine maker Rolls-Royce got a new 1.5 billion-pound ($1.8 billion) credit line, after drawing down 2.5 billion pounds of revolving facilities last month


Berkshire Hathaway's multi-tranche yen bond is its first sale in the region since September, when it raised 430 billion yen (about $4 billion) across six tranches in the biggest yen offering by a non-Japanese borrowerBerkshire's sale may be welcome news for institutional investors in Japan desperate for yield and safer credits. The country's Government Pension Investment Fund said last week it will allocate 25% of its assets into overseas debt while cutting holdings of Japanese bonds. Read more about that hereRepublic of Indonesia is offering a three-part note sale and will use the proceeds to part-fund its Covid-19 relief and recovery effortsThe Markit iTraxx Asia ex-Japan index of credit-default swaps declined about 3 basis points Monday. Meanwhile Asian investment-grade dollar bond spreads were little changed after widening for a seventh straight week through Friday, according to a Bloomberg Barclays indexTrading volumes were light and liquidity in the market appears thin


U.S. equity futures are rising on Monday, as stocks jumped in both Europe and Asia after the reported death tolls in some of the world's coronavirus hot spots showed signs of easing over the weekendIt follows a subdued Friday for activity after a grim payrolls reportActivity is set to be front-loaded this week because of Friday's public holiday, with Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance in the market today with a two-part dollar dealFor more, click here for the Credit Daybook Americas

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