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Bord Gais burnt by own bonds

The Punt fears Bord Gais has become a victim of its own popularity in the bond markets.

Final figures show the semi-state company only managed to redeem around half of the €550m of bond debt it offered to 'buy back' from investors this week.

Bord Gais offered to redeem all of the debt that is scheduled to be repaid in 2014, almost two years early, funding the offer with proceeds of last week's cheaper €500m bond issue.

Many investors, alas, resisted the offer, despite an offer from the company to pay 106pc of face to get the bonds back early.

It leaves Bord Gais with not one but two sizeable bonds outstanding, presumably until 2014 when the original debt falls due for repayment anyway.

In fairness the blow-out success of having €6.5bn offered at an auction of €500m of new bonds should have been a bit of a warning.

Investors are very comfortable holding Bord Gais paper right now, so much so that when it comes to investing in a new bond or holding on to an old one, many simply opted to have both.

It's what our American cousins call a "high-class problem", however, it's also an expensive one.

Last week's successful €500m deal did help Bord Gais push back the average tenor of its debts and reduced the average cost of borrowings, and leaves the company in a notably comfortable financial position.

However, the limited take-up for the "refi" leaves Bord Gais with more debt to service than it had a week ago.

Irish Independent