CAM Investment Grade Weekly Insights
Fund Flows & Issuance: According to Lipper, for the week ended June 21, investment grade funds posted a net inflow of $1.55bn down from $2.603bn the prior week. Per Lipper data, the year-to-date net inflow into investment grade funds was $65.843bn. Per Bloomberg, investment grade corporate issuance for the week was $19.675bn, which was underwhelming relative to consensus. Through the week, YTD total corporate bond issuance was $700.045bn, which trails 2016 by 3%. Barring a Friday turnaround, WTI crude oil is headed for its fifth consecutive weekly drop, and while IG remains just off YTD tights, weakening oil prices are likely weighing on primary issuance.
(Bloomberg) Celanese, Blackstone to Form Venture for Cigarette Filter Fiber
- Celanese Corp. and Blackstone Group agreed to form a joint venture to create a global supplier of acetate tow, a derivative of wood pulp used in making cigarette filters and other products.
- The business will combine Celanese’s Cellulose Derivatives and Blackstone’s Rhodia Acetow units, the companies said Sunday in a joint statement. Celanese will own 70 percent of the venture and Blackstone the remaining 30 percent, and the as-yet-unnamed venture will distribute $1.6 billion to Celanese when it closes.
- A tasteless, odorless form of cellulose, acetate tow is also used to make products such as marker tips, air fresheners and perfume dispensers. The new entity is expected to have 2017 pro forma revenue of about $1.3 billion with about 2,400 employees and will benefit from synergies in supply procurement, innovation, energy, equipment and other services, according to the statement.
- “The combination of these tow assets will enhance our ability to serve customers more efficiently and reliably from a global production footprint while also creating growth opportunities for employees,” said Mark Rohr, chief executive officer of Celanese.
- Celanese will name three members of the new company’s five-member board. Blackstone will pick the other two.
(BNA) Linde and Praxair Prepared for Long Haul in Antitrust Fight
- Linde AG and Praxair Inc. are girding for a long antitrust fight across multiple countries for their proposed merger of equals, and have given themselves a generous two years to close the deal.
- The two companies announced their proposed merger on June 1. The combined entity, with a current value in excess of $70 billion, would become the biggest player in a concentrated industrial gases market worldwide. It would outrank current market leader Air Liquide SA, which combined with Airgas Inc. in 2016 for $13 billion. The remaining players in the market have less than half the market position of either large firm, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.
- By setting a closing deadline far in the future, Linde and Praxair have avoided having their contract expire before their deal clears regulatory hurdles. But they face other risks, including changes in the market and extra costs to sealing the deal, Jones Day partner Chip MacDonald told Bloomberg BNA.
- MacDonald, who handles bank and broker dealer mergers with a complex regulatory overlay, said he doesn’t see parties setting longer deadlines in his own practice. A one-year expiration keeps everybody focused on closing the deal, including regulators, he noted.
- Most notable examples include scuttled mega-mergers between Staples Inc. and Office Depot Inc., Sysco Corp. and US Foods Holding Corp., and Electrolux AB and General Electric Co.
- U.S. regulators examined those mergers based on a narrow slice of “national accounts” served by limited big players. When regulators draw the market on that basis, it is the scale and scope of the operation that matters, not operational overlap that can be cured by divesting a few facilities or product lines.
- “The gas industry’s growth is defined by new projects at customers’ sites,” said Bloomberg Intelligence senior analyst Jason Miner in an analysis. “It’s this pipeline of potential on-site sales, rather than overlaps in installed footprints, that would likely drive regulatory concerns in a Praxair-Linde combination.”
(Bloomberg, Reuters) AT&T Awaiting Justice Department Details for Time Warner Deal
- AT&T senior executive VP Bob Quinn said the company is still unsure what final conditions may be needed as part of the approval process.
- The Justice Department is continuing its review of the $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc. by telecom company AT&T , with AT&T still awaiting details about any final requirements to get the deal done, Reuters reports.
- Speaking with C-SPAN this week AT&T senior executive VP for external and legislative affairs Bob Quinn said the company is still unsure what final conditions may be needed as part of the approval process.
- “That conversation is just beginning really. We’ve gotten through the point where we’re produced all the data and answered all the questions and I think that process will kick off this summer,” Quinn said, according to Reuters.
(Bloomberg) Medtronic Announces $5B Share Buyback; Boosts Qtr Dividend 7%
- Medtronic qtr cash dividend raised to 46c/shr from 43c vs. estimate 47c, the company said in a press release.
- Dividend is payble on July 26 to holders of record at the close of business July 7
- Buyback replaces previous 2015 repurchase authorization
- NOTE: 15 buys, 12 holds, 0 sells before today; avg PT $92.35
(Bloomberg) Dow-DuPont Wins U.S. Antitrust Nod to Create Chemicals Giant
(Bloomberg) Committee Approves Extension of Nuclear Production Tax Credit