Is the Actavis $21 Billion Bond Sale Just the First?

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Generally speaking, when one company offers to buy another for $66 billion, the acquiring company has to borrow money in order to pay up. That is what Actavis PLC (NYSE: ACT) did on Monday, launching a bond sale to raise $21 billion to pay for its acquisition of Allergan Inc. (NYSE: AGN). The sale is the second-largest ever, trailing well behind the $49 billion sale Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) launched in 2013 to pay for its acquisition of the minority stake in Verizon Wireless held by Vodafone Group PLC (NASDAQ: VOD).

With virtually everyone expecting the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates later this year, other companies with golden credit ratings may also turn to the bond markets.

The Actavis bond issue was heavily oversubscribed, with orders for $90 billion, even though the yield on a 10-year note was just 1.75% above the 10-year Treasury rate. Given the demand, yields may be even lower. At the bell on Monday afternoon, the 10-year Treasury yield was 2.1%.

The bonds vary in maturity from 18 months to 30 years, carry an investment-grade rating and are seen as a very good investment with Treasury rates so low. The bonds are expected to be delivered in 10 tranches

Actavis is not the only big borrower making news. Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) is also believed to be about to offer $7 billion in bonds, its largest ever debt deal. Exxon’s AAA credit rating means that the oil giant may end up paying less than 1% over the comparable U.S. Treasury rate.

Actavis shares traded down about 0.2% just before noon on Tuesday, at $296.86 in a 52-week range of $184.71 to $297.50. The high was posted Monday.

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