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TOKYO: Japanese eCommerce giant Rakuten Group Inc has increased the size of its junk bond offering to US$450mil (RM1.97bil) from US$200mil (RM874mil) in a sign of strong investor demand.
Amazon.com Inc’s competitor in Japan is adding on to a series of notes that it first sold last year, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Rakuten tapped the market in November for US$500mil (RM2.19bil) at a whopping 12% yield. The Morgan Stanley-led offering is expected to price soon.
The company is looking to shore up more cash for its struggling mobile unit and to help repay debt. In December, its ratings were cut further into junk by S&P Global Ratings.
The firm’s November transaction also went to funding capital investments for its mobile business and for the repayment of debt.
S&P affirmed the bonds’ BB grade on Tuesday. Meanwhile, average yields for BB-rated borrowers currently stand at 6.71%, according to Bloomberg-compiled data.
The high-yield market has been mostly shut over the past month. Demand is lower as recession-wary investors reallocate money to safer blue-chip credits and soaring borrowing costs keep potential issuers on the sidelines.,
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However, junk bonds rallied for six straight sessions before the winning streak ended with a modest loss on Tuesday.
Mobile broadband in Asia is likely to sustain continued price pressure, either due to competition or regulatory intervention, according to Bloomberg intelligence strategists Marvin Lo and Chris Muckenstrum.
“The Year of the Rabbit could be a bumpy 12 months for Asian telcos amid recession and inflation risks,” the strategists wrote in a note earlier this week.
“Rakuten Group and Advanced Info Service could be most vulnerable, in our scenario.”
Mobile losses could keep Rakuten Group’s earnings in the red through 2024 despite double-digit operating-profit growth in both its Internet and financial technology units, they wrote.
Its highly leveraged mobile unit also might need more cash to support its subscriber ramp-up plan. Rakuten’s longer-term outlook, meanwhile, depends on its ability to stop mobile losses and meet near-term funding needs, BI strategist Sharon Chen wrote.
“It is likely to miss guidance for mobile breakeven by the end of this year due to slow user gains, keeping its non-financial unit highly leveraged,” wrote Chen.
“The company could eventually sell minority stakes in its profitable businesses, though this increases cash leak.” Balance sheet repair might need to happen by the fourth quarter of this year when US$2.2bil (RM9.6bil) of bonds come due, she added. — Bloomberg
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