Tencent launches $6bn bond in record Asia fundraising rush

Tencent has raised $6bn in the latest big-ticket dollar bond sale in Asia, where issuers have tapped markets for a record of nearly $150bn in dollar-denominated funding so far this year.

The Chinese social media and gaming group priced the four-tranche dollar bond on Thursday, according to a term sheet seen by the Financial Times. The deal comes on the heels of a strong first-quarter performance for Tencent and marks the largest dollar bond sale by a Chinese company this year.

The largest, 10-year tranche of $2.24bn delivers annual interest payments of 2.39 per cent, or about 1.7 percentage points above the current 10-year US Treasury yield. The company also priced its first 40-year debt, raising $750m at a coupon of 3.29 per cent.

The deal was under way on Wednesday in New York when Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, said the US no longer viewed Hong Kong as autonomous from mainland China. The statement was the most serious response yet from the Trump administration to Beijing’s decision to impose a new national security law on Hong Kong.

One banker on the deal said US investors were nonetheless present “in full force”.

“You don’t get a $32bn order book unless you’ve got significant participation by the US investor base,” the banker said.

The Tencent deal takes this year’s total dollar debt issuance in Asia, excluding Japan, to $148.4bn. That is a record for this point in the calendar and up $9.3bn from a year ago, according to data from Dealogic.

Tencent posted a profit of almost Rmb29bn ($4bn) on sales of Rmb108bn for the first quarter, up by more than a quarter and beating analysts’ expectations for revenues by about Rmb7bn.

With much of the country stuck at home playing Tencent’s games, the company is among the few in China to receive a massive boost from a nationwide lockdown carried out to contain the pandemic, which has throttled global economic growth.

The issuance comes as investment-grade companies tap bond markets for record amounts as they seek to bolster their balance sheets against the most severe economic downturn in living memory. Investment-grade corporate bond issuance in the US has already topped $1tn this year.

Tencent’s latest bonds are expected to be available for trading from June 3.

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