Bloomberg News

BHP Billiton, Lowe’s Lead $10.7 Billion of Corporate Bond Sales

November 17, 2011

Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- BHP Billiton Ltd. and Lowe’s Cos. led companies raising $10.7 billion in the corporate bond market as issuance this month climbs to the highest level since May.

BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, sold $3 billion of bonds in its first U.S. dollar-denominated offering in more than two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Mooresville, North Carolina-based Lowe’s issued $1 billion of notes a day after Standard & Poor’s cut its credit grade one step to A-, the data show.

Borrowers from Amgen Inc. to Xstrata Plc have issued $88.4 billion of corporate bonds in the U.S. in November, the most since $158.9 billion was sold six months ago, Bloomberg data show. Yields on investment-grade corporate bonds averaged 3.84 percent yesterday, within 40 basis points of the all-time low 3.45 percent reached in August, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch index data.

BHP Billiton issued $1 billion of three-year, 1.125 percent notes that yield 85 basis points more than similar-maturity Treasuries, $750 million of five-year, 1.875 percent debt that pays a spread of 110 basis points and $1.25 billion of 10-year, 3.25 percent debentures that pay 135 basis points more than the benchmark, Bloomberg data show. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point. The Melbourne-based company increased the offering from $2 billion.

Lowe’s offering was split evenly between 10-year, 3.8 percent notes that pay a 180 basis-point spread and 30-year, 5.125 percent bonds that pay a spread of 210 basis points, Bloomberg data show. Proceeds may be used for stock buybacks, capital expenditures, acquisitions or working capital, the company said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

S&P lowered its credit grade on Lowe’s from A yesterday, citing its “more aggressive financial policy,” the ratings company said in a statement. Moody’s Investors Service reduced its rating on Lowe’s two steps to A3 from A1 on Nov. 14.

Statoil ASA and American Express Credit Corp. also sold debt today, Bloomberg data show.

--Editors: Pierre Paulden, John Parry

To contact the reporter on this story: Tim Catts in New York at tcatts1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alan Goldstein at agoldstein5@bloomberg.net.


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