GE Capital May Sell $6 Billion of Debt in Four-Part Offer

Tuesday, 04 Jan 2011 02:45 PM

 

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GE Capital Corp., the finance arm of General Electric Co., plans to sell $6 billion of bonds in a four-part offering as soon as today, according to a person familiar with the transaction.

The sale would be the biggest since Feb. 4, 2010, when billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. sold $8 billion of bonds and Kraft Foods Inc. sold $9.5 billion. Those debt offerings were to help pay for Berkshire’s acquisition of railroad Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. and Kraft’s purchase of Cadbury PLC.

“GE has methodically gotten ahead of its debt schedule during the last couple of years,” said Daniel Holland, an equity analyst at Morningstar Inc. in Chicago, in a telephone interview. “It’s giving them the flexibility to do what they need to do.”

GE Capital may issue $1 billion of two-year floating-rate notes that yield 57 basis points more than the London interbank offered rate and $1.25 billion of three-year floating securities at 85 basis points more than the lending benchmark, said the person, who declined to be identified because terms aren’t set.

The company also may sell $1.75 billion of 3-year fixed- rate debt that yields 110 basis points more than similar-maturity Treasurys and $2 billion of 10-year debt at a 135 basis-point spread, the person said. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.

Bonds issued by GE Capital may outperform those of rivals this year, according to Barclays Capital, which named the company’s debt its “top pick for 2011” in a report yesterday.

Long-Term Debt

The extra yield investors demand to hold GE Capital’s debt, compared with similar-maturity Treasurys, will narrow in 2011, Barclays strategists led by Jonathan Glionna said in the report.

GE Capital plans to issue $25 to $30 billion of long-term debt this year, GE Treasurer Kathryn Cassidy said in a Dec. 7 conference call. In 2010, it sold $12.8 billion of dollar- denominated bonds, making it the leader in corporate bond sales without government guarantees, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The unit last sold U.S. dollar-denominated 10-year debt in benchmark size on Sept. 13, issuing $2 billion of 4.375 percent notes that were priced to yield 140 basis points more than similar-maturity Treasurys, or 4.475 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Those securities traded yesterday at 99.1 cents on the dollar to yield 4.49 percent, or a 115.6 basis-point spread, according to Trace, the bond-price reporting system of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

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