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Verizon Corporate Bond Issue Approaches $50 Billion, the Largest Ever

Jon C. Ogg

Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) may have acquired an earnings growth machine now that it purchased the rest of its stake in Verizon Wireless from Vodafone Group PLC (VOD). The problem that many investors have with the deal is that the acquisition of the remaining stake was extremely high on the surface. The value is set at about $130 billion, which is close enough to Verizon's total market value and it is going to create what appears to be the largest corporate bond offering in history.

Verizon is likely to be offering $40 billion or $50 billion in corporate bonds to pay for the purchase. The company is also expected to drain its credit lines to pay for the deal. We have seen many predictions on the size of the bond offering, and we expect the offering to come the week of September 9 to September 13. It looks like the size of the offering is now over $40 billion, and it may reach $50 billion.

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Before any investors hit the panic button on Verizon's common stock, we would remind everyone that this bond offering has been mostly or entirely known. What has not been known is the exact timing, the exact size, and the exact terms.

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At $46.47, Verizon's 52-week trading range is $40.51 to $54.31 and Verizon still yields about 4.6% for its common stock dividend. Here are the closing bell prices chronologically so you can see how Verizon shares have acted going into the deal and since it was announced:

  • Sept. 10 $46.47
  • Sept. 9 $45.91
  • Sept. 6 $46.34
  • Sept. 5 $46.64
  • Sept. 4 $46.78
  • Sept. 3 $46.01
  • Aug. 30 $47.38

The real winner has been Vodafone. While it closed down 1% in New York ADR trading on Tuesday, its prior run had been six of the last seven trading sessions prior to Tuesday. How that plays out with capital gains taxes and the like is yet to be finalized, but Vodafone's US-equivalent market capitalization is $161.5 billion. Now it has some serious monopoly money to go buy many assets out there. Or maybe it can become the true king of telecom dividends.

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24/7 Wall St. recently gave a telecom and wireless M&A landscape report to identify which telecoms could still be acquired (and which ones could not). We have already seen action on that front in the cellphone towers space.

It is too bad that Verizon did not get more crafty and more bold back in March or April. Long-term interest rates have risen in some cases more than 100 basis points since the start of May.

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