SABMiller Joins Bond Rush in Europe as Credit Markets Rally

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SABMiller Plc (SAB) raised 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) from its first sale of bonds in the currency in three years as companies from G4S Plc (GFS) to TeliaSonera (TLSN) AB tapped into Europe’s credit-market rally.
The world’s second-biggest brewer issued the notes due January 2020 to yield 70 basis points more than the swaps rate, according to people familiar with the deal. Debt issuance will top at least 16.4 billion euros this week, the busiest since Sept. 16 and above the year’s weekly average of 14 billion euros.
Companies are taking advantage of a rally that pushed the cost of insuring the region’s bank debt to near the lowest in 16 months as they raise funds before the holiday period. Corporate bonds in Europe yield a record low 2.2 percent, Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s EMU Corporate index shows.
“These are the last weeks before the holidays, so the last chance to issue this year,” said Harold Van Acht, senior credit analyst at Kempen Capital Management NV in Amsterdam. “Both absolute yield and credit spread levels are generally attractive for issuers and investors still want to put cash to work.”
London-based SABMiller last sold bonds in euros in July 2009 when it raised 1 billion euros of notes due January 2015 priced to yield 170 basis points more than the benchmark swaps rate, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
TeliaSonera, Sweden’s largest telephone company, sold 400 million pounds ($641 million) of bonds due in 30 years, its first deal in the currency, at a spread of 135 basis points more than gilts, according to people familiar with the transaction. British security provider G4S marketed 500 million euros of six- year bonds at 167 basis points more than swaps.

Bilfinger Debut
Also in the market for the first time is German power company Bilfinger, offering 500 million euros of seven-year bonds that will yield 115 basis points more than swaps. The securities were initially marketed with a spread of about 135 basis points.
Bonds of Spanish utilities Iberdrola SA (IBE) and Gas Natural SA were the best performers today in Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s EMU Corporates Non-Financials index. The yield on Bilbao-based Iberdrola’s 4.125 percent notes due 2020 fell 12.3 basis points to 250 basis points more than benchmark German government debt. That’s the smallest gap since March 23. The spread on Gas Natural’s 5.125 percent 2021 notes shrank seven basis points to 384.

Credit-Default Swaps
Credit-default swaps insuring Spanish government debt fell as much as 12.5 basis points to 277, approaching the lowest level in 16 months. Contracts on Italy dropped as much as 11 basis points to 236, the lowest since Oct. 18.
The Markit iTraxx Financial Index linked to senior debt of 25 European banks and insurers dropped five basis points to 159 at 3 p.m. in London, approaching the lowest in 16 months. The subordinated index fell six basis points to 279.
The Markit iTraxx Crossover Index of swaps on 50 companies with mostly junk credit ratings declined 14 basis points to 493. The Markit iTraxx Europe Index of contracts on 125 companies with investment-grade ratings dropped three basis points to 122.
A basis point on swaps contract a protecting 10 million euros of debt from default for five years is equivalent to 1,000 euros a year. The derivatives pay the buyer face value in exchange for the underlying securities or the cash equivalent should a borrower fail to adhere to its debt agreements.