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08-06-2012 14:11:00

EUROBONDS: Spanish Bank Fears Take Toll on Debt Sales

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By Ben Edwards

The European primary bond market remained muted Friday with just one benchmark-size deal sold, capping a barren week disrupted by public holidays and mounting fears about the ailing Spanish banking sector.

Supranational borrower the European Investment Bank, or EIB, sold a one billion euro ($1.26 billion) tap of its 4% bond due to mature April 2030.

The tap priced at 98 basis points over midswaps, taking the total amount of the bond outstanding to EUR6.5 billion, according to Tradeweb.

Benchmark bonds are typically sized EUR500 million or above.

The deal follows a EUR1.5 billion tap from French social security debt management agency Caisse d'Amortissement de la Dette Sociale, or CADES, Wednesday.

Corporate issuers have mostly remained sidelined this week, with no benchmark-size deals sold yet in June. Dutch gas and power operator Alliander came close with a EUR400 million, 12-year bond Wednesday.

Concerns about a potentially messy Greek exit from the euro zone and the ongoing rumblings about the ill health of the Spanish banking sector have pushed corporate borrowing costs in the region higher, with the iBoxx European Corporate Bond index moving 19 basis points wider since the start of May to 206 basis points at Thursday's close, according to data-provider Markit.

The prospect of higher borrowing costs will likely deter opportunistic issuers from tapping the public bond markets, though a modest pipeline is developing with a handful of roadshows scheduled next week.

German companies are leading the way, with aircraft engine-maker MTU Aero Engines Holding AG (MTUAY) and unrated pharmaceutical-retailer Celesio AG (CLS1.XE) planning to meet with investors in Europe from Monday 11, and mail-services group Deutsche Post (DPSGY) from Thursday 14.

U.K. gas company BG Energy is likely to conclude roadshowing its proposed hybrid bond to investors in Europe and Asia next week.

Also in the U.K., Network Rail said it plans to tap one or more of its existing sterling-denominated, inflation-linked bonds in the coming weeks, subject to market conditions.

Sentiment slumped Friday following Fitch Ratings' three-notch downgrade of Spain to BBB from A. The cost of insuring European corporate debt pushed higher in response, with Spanish banks taking a notable hit. Five-year credit default swaps on Banco Santander (STD) moved 14 basis points wider to 418 basis points, while BBVA (BBVA) was 15 basis points wider at 458 basis points--just two basis points off its record wide hit back in November, Markit said.

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

At around 1130 GMT, the iTraxx Europe index, which comprises 125 high-grade borrowers, 25 of which are banks and insurers, was almost three basis points wider at 175.5 basis points, Markit said.

The Crossover index of 40 mostly sub-investment-grade European corporate borrowers was six basis points wider at 703 basis points.

Write to Ben Edwards at ben.edwards@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 08, 2012 08:11 ET (12:11 GMT)

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

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