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15-03-2012 13:44:00

EUROBONDS: Primary Activity Muted, Euro-Zone Data Disappoints

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By Sarka Halas

Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- The European primary bond market was muted Thursday with only a handful of deals emerging, while the cost of insuring European debt against default was mostly higher.

First in the primary Thursday was BNP Paribas Home Loan SFH (BNP.FR), the French lender's covered bond issuing unit. It's to price its EUR1 billion, 10-year deal at 85 basis points over midswaps, tighter than initial guidance in the area of 90 basis points.

In the corporate space was French-Dutch real-estate company Unibail-Rodamco SA (UL.FR). It set pricing on its euro-denominated, benchmark-size, seven-year bond at 105 to 110 basis points over midswaps.

Spanish construction company Obrascon Huarte Lain SA (OHL.MC) is planning a new EUR300 million eight-year bond. The high-yield bond will be priced later Thursday. It's non-callable for four years.

At the same time, the company is buying back up to EUR300 million of its existing EUR700 million, 7.375% bond maturing 2015, the company said in a statement. The repurchase price is 105.50% of the bond's face value. The offer is due to expire March 23.

Obrascon Huarte Lain said the tender is part of an exercise to manage its bond redemptions and extend the average maturity of its debt. Any bonds that are bought back will be cancelled and won't be reissued or resold, the company said.

Elsewhere, the cost of insuring European sovereign and corporate debt mostly rose, while data from the European Union indicated that consumption and confidence remain weak due to declining employment and falling real wages in the euro zone. Data showed that employment declined 0.2% both on the quarter and on the year in the final three months of last year.

Around 1250 GMT, the SovX Western Europe index, which investors can use to buy or sell credit default swaps on a basket of sovereign borrowers, was at 225/229 basis points, three basis point wider than Wednesday's close. The index is now being quoted without Greece, according to data-provider Markit.

Credit default swaps are derivatives that function like a default insurance contract for debt. If a borrower defaults, sellers compensate buyers.

The iTraxx Europe index, which comprises 125 high-grade borrowers, 25 of which are banks and insurers, was at 126/127 basis points, unchanged from Wednesday's close, according to data provider Markit.

The Crossover index of 40 mostly sub-investment-grade European corporate borrowers was four basis points wider at 557/560 basis points.

-By Sarka Halas, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 (0) 207 842 9436; sarka.halasova@dowjones.com

(Ben Edwards and Serena Ruffoni in London contributed to this report)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 15, 2012 09:44 ET (13:44 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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