Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP)
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5 Years : From Apr 2012 to Apr 2017
Railroad franchise Union Pacific Corp. (UNP) sold $500 million of senior unsecured debt Thursday at the lowest nominal interest rate, or "coupon", on record for a U.S. marketed, 30-year dollar bond issue rated in the triple-Bs, according to data provider Dealogic.
Dealogic started keeping records in 1995.
With investors flocking to Treasurys as a safe haven amid sputtering economic growth, companies have been able to borrow at some of the cheapest rates on record. Corporate bonds are benchmarked to U.S. Treasurys, and their incremental yield is attractive in the current low interest-rate environment.
"High-grade corporate bonds are being viewed as a safer asset than most other markets, so despite the rally in Treasurys, we're still seeing good appetite for corporate debt," said Andrew Karp, head of investment-grade debt syndicate at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. BofA co-led the deal with Citigroup Global Markets and J.P. Morgan Securities.
The issue, rated BBB-plus by Standard & Poor's and Baa2 by Moody's Investors Service, sold with a 4.75% coupon to yield 4.875%, for a risk premium of 1.10 percentage points over Treasurys, according to a regulatory filing.
The previous record coupon for a 30-year, triple-B issue was held by Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC), whose bonds sold with a coupon of 5.05% and at a spread of 1.05 percentage points over Treasurys last November.
Tom Lange, a Union Pacific spokesman in Omaha, Neb., said the company came to market Thursday to "take advantage of low Treasury rates," adding that proceeds would be used for "general corporate purposes."
The yield on 30-year Treasurys hit 3.775% when Union Pacific priced its bonds, but later in the session fell even lower to 3.69%.
The last time Union Pacific was in the bond market was July 28, 2010, with a 10.5-year, $500 million issue bearing a 4% coupon and a 4.095% yield, said Dealogic.
-By Katy Burne, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-3084; firstname.lastname@example.org
(Kellie Geressy-Nilsen contributed to this article.)