Telecom giant Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) sold $49 billion worth of bonds on Wednesday, in the largest corporate bond sale ever, to raise funds for its planned purchase of Vodafone's (NASDAQ:VOD) stake in Verizon Wireless.
The New York-based telecommunications company sold the debt in three-, five-, 10-, 20- and 30-year notes, with yield on the 10-year note reaching 5.192 percent -- a 2.25 percentage points spread over the current yield in 10-year treasury bonds -- while the lowest yield spread was 1.65 percentage points on three-year notes, MarketWatch reported.
The record-breaking bond sale and the overwhelming response to the offering highlights rising investor interest in highly-rated corporate bonds amid an improving economy and near-zero interest rates. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Verizon received orders more than double the amount of bonds it sold, from about 1,000 buyers.
"We had orders in this book that exceeded anything we've ever seen before," Paul Spivack, global head of investment-grade syndicate at Morgan Stanley, one of the lead underwriters for the bond sale, told the Journal.
The Verizon bonds witnessed feverish trading in the market on Wednesday as strong demand pushed yields down and prices high, and those investors who were unable to buy the bonds directly moved to the secondary market to buy the paper.
The size of the bond sale surpassed Apple Inc’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) $17 billion offering in April and is expected to push total corporate bond sales this year to its highest tally since 2008. According to a Reuters report, bond sales this year have touched $540 billion, marking a 21 percent increase in U.S. bond sales over the same period last year.
Analysts believe that the frenetic demand for the Verizon bonds could inspire other companies with comparable credit ratings to follow suit, as record-low interest rates might begin moving up beyond the near term.
"It's a unique rate environment, and pricing at attractive levels that you can't ignore," Matt Duch, a portfolio manager at Calvert Investments Inc. of Bethesda, Md., told the Journal.