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Google owner Alphabet issues record $10 billion bond at lowest-ever price

Kate Duguid
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a logo of Google in Zurich
FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a logo of Google in Zurich

(This story corrects second paragraph to say Alphabet coupon lowest at 5-year maturity going back to 1980 instead of since Apple deal in 2013)

By Kate Duguid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc borrowed $10 billion in the investment-grade corporate debt market on Monday, the Google parent's largest ever bond issue, which it secured at its lowest-ever cost of financing.

Of the $10 billion on offer, the $1 billion five-year tranche was issued at a coupon of 0.45%, the lowest coupon seen on a U.S. corporate bond at that maturity, according to Refinitiv data, which goes back to 1980.

Investor appetite was fierce for the tech giant's six-part bond, as low interest rates and corporate bond buying from the Federal Reserve continues to support issuance. The deal garnered more than $31 billion in demand, according to Refinitiv IFR. Previously, Alphabet's lowest coupon was 1.25% on a $1 billion May 2014 note.

"We're at a stage where these extremely high-quality issuers - of which Alphabet is one - are going to price very very tight. That's because there are a lot of buyers who need short-term, don't-need-to-think-about-it money. You're getting two times the yield on the five-year Treasury," said Tom Graff, head of fixed income at Brown Advisory.

Last week Alphabet reported its first quarterly sales drop in its 16 years as a public company. Its share price was largely unmoved however, as the loss in sales was offset by a recovery in Google's ads business.

"There is a very narrow set of companies that were already super high quality, that are not impacted by this recession we're going through right now. And Google is one of them," said Graff.

Alphabet's five-year tranche priced just higher than Amazon.com's 0.40% three-year note issued in June, among the lowest corporate coupons ever recorded. Alphabet's 0.45% five-year tranche was however cheaper than Amazon's June 2020 offering at the same maturity, which priced at 0.80%.

Of the $10 billion offered, $4.5 billion from the seven-, 20- and 40-year tranches will be used for general corporate purposes, including acquisitions. The remaining $5.5 billion will be used for green initiatives, the company said, the largest-ever issue of corporate debt for environment, social and governance endeavors.

(Reporting by Kate Duguid in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)