Monday 19 March 2018

AIB lines up second bond issue deal in two months

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

AIB could be back in the bond market as soon as today as it seeks to replace ECB loans with private-sector borrowings.

A deal would be the second bond issue in a little more than two months for the bank, after it returned to the markets for only the first time since it was nationalised in November.

The size of the latest bond deal will not be known until an auction opens and investors start placing orders for the debt.

AIB raised €500m from private investors in the November deal. It paid an interest rate of 3.125pc to borrow the cash over three years in a so-called covered bond issue that is secured on a pool of AIB home loans.

The bank last night confirmed that Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley and UBS have been hired to examine issuing a new covered bond deal.

The Irish Independent understands that it is looking at issuing new three-and-a-half-year "covered bonds" as early as today.

The bonds are expected to be rated Baa3 by Moody's and 'A' by Fitch and Standard & Poor's.

In November, AIB followed Bank of Ireland back into the covered bond market when both of the bailed-out lenders raised debt on the markets, which is not guaranteed by the State, for the first time since the bailout.

Both banks are now under pressure to demonstrate that they can sustain such access to the commercial debt markets, and wean themselves off support from the European Central Bank. AIB's deal is expected to tap into still strong demand among investors for higher-yielding bond debt from Europe's economically weak periphery.

Yesterday, Spain's Santander issued a €2bn five-year covered bond.

There is growing evidence of strong investor appetite for Irish bank debt. Earlier this month the Government surprised the markets when it sold a €1bn slice of the bond debt that it is owed by Bank of Ireland at a profit.

Bank debt, including covered bonds, is regarded as a safer investment than bank shares, but the returns for investors are fixed at the interest plus repayment of capital.

In contrast, there is no limit to how much the value of shares can rise, at least in theory.

Irish Independent

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business