(Bloomberg) — Apple Inc. tapped the US high-grade bond market Monday with a $5.5 billion sale in four parts.
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The longest portion of the offering, a 40-year security, yields 118 basis points over US Treasuries, down from initial price discussions in the 150 basis points range, according to people familiar with the deal. The order book for the sale peaked at more than $23 billion, a person with knowledge of the demand said.
Proceeds from the bond sale are earmarked for general corporate purposes, including the financing of share buybacks and dividends, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the details are private.
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The sale comes after the primary market for US investment-grade bonds sprang back to life in the second half of July amid a credit market rally. Many of the big banks brought large debt sales after reporting earnings, helping supply beat expectations for the month. The momentum is expected to continue into this week with Wall Street syndicate desks expecting around $30 billion of new high-grade bond supply.
Apple, one of eight companies that sold new high-grade bonds Monday, appears to be taking advantage of the recent stability and relatively cheaper cost of funding in the corporate market. The yield on Bloomberg’s benchmark investment-grade index hit a nearly two-month low on Friday.
The iPhone maker’s cash and cash equivalents stockpile sits at nearly $180 billion, while it has paid out around $14 billion dividends each of the last three years.
“Apple consistently borrowing tens of billions of dollars annually is due more to its confidence in expanding cash flow than operational needs,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Robert Schiffman wrote Monday.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp. managed the sale.
In December, Apple’s long-term credit was upgraded to Aaa by Moody’s Investors Service, putting it in an exclusive club with Microsoft Corp. and Johnson & Johnson as the only US corporations in the S&P 500 with the highest possible credit rating.
(Updates to reflect throughout that the bonds sold)
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