Visa Inc. has started marketing what’s poised to be one of the biggest bond offerings of the year to finance its 21.2 billion euro ($23.3 billion) takeover of Visa Europe Ltd.
The world’s largest payments network plans to sell debt as soon as today, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Visa said last month that it plans to issue as much as $16 billion in debt to finance the takeover. That would make the offering the fourth-largest company debt sale this year after Actavis Plc’s $21 billion deal to buy Allergan Inc., AT&T Inc.’s $17.5 billion bond sale funding the purchase of DirectTV and AbbVie Inc.’s $16.6 billion financing to buy Pharmacyclics Inc.
“I would expect this to probably be the last deal of any size in the new-issue markets for 2015,” said Joe Mayo, the head of credit research at Conning, a global insurance investment manager which oversees about $92 billion of assets. Mayo expects “very high demand” for the offering.
Visa’s the latest in a string of large bond deals in a year where investment-grade companies have issued a record $1.28 trillion of debt before the Federal Reserve raises interest rates for the first time since 2006. Fed Chair Janet Yellen and other policy makers at the U.S. central bank have signaled they remain prepared to raise their key rate as soon as their next meeting starting Dec. 15.
The Fed meeting “creates another unknown in the market environment and speaks to the reason why doing a deal of this size at a time when it’s still not so close to the meeting is probably ideal,” said Jody Lurie, a corporate credit analyst at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC. “We are at a point where if the company waited any longer, it would probably have to wait until January, given the market expectations for this month.”
Visa may sell the notes in as many as six parts, according to a company filing. The longest dated part of the sale will be 30-year bonds that are being offered at a yield of 1.55 percentage points more than similar-maturity Treasuries, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. The yield is in line with bonds of comparable maturity and rating, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch Indexes.
The acquisition will allow Visa to unify its brand globally after eight years as separate companies. The lack of contributions to earnings from Europe has long been seen as a weakness for Foster City, California-based Visa and an advantage for smaller competitor MasterCard Inc., which owns its European business.