NEW YORK (Reuters) - Alibaba wowed the markets Thursday with its ground-breaking US$8 billion debut dollar bond, pricing it at levels in line with and even tighter than some of the world's best-known companies.
The Chinese e-commerce giant amassed more than US$55 billion of orders for the highly anticipated six-tranche deal, one of the largest investment-grade bonds of the year.
The narrow pricing marked a milestone for a Chinese company, as accounting standards in China have a bad reputation in the markets.
"This is a new name highly exposed to the emerging Chinese retail market," said Matthew Duch, senior portfolio manager at Calvert Investments. "By most comparisons the pricing is fair. But being its premiere debt deal, there's additional interest."
With its high A1/A+/A+ rating, and using the enormous hype around its record-breaking equity IPO two months ago, Alibaba was able to break the mold and have global investors price its deal against blue-chip names like Amazon (Baa1/AA-), Cisco(A1/AA-)and Oracle (A1/A+), rather than much wider trading Chinese tech companies like Tencent (A3/A-) and Baidu (A3/A).
At 128 basis points on the 10-year bond, for example, Alibaba priced inside where Amazon would bring a new 10-year, according to some market participants, and not much more than about 10bp to where some investors would buy a 10-year from Oracle if it was part of a similarly-sized transaction.
"They clearly wanted to be priced in the context of their global peers and wanted to be viewed as a global tech or retail company, rather than one that should be compared with other Chinese corporations," said one syndicate head who followed the deal. "They've priced significantly through where any other Chinese corporation would come to market."
Bookrunners closed the book mid-morning the following day with over US$55 billion of demand spread across more than 2,700 line items from something like a thousand different investors.