Espirito Santo Sells First Portugal Bank Bond Since March 2010

Banco Espirito Santo SA (BES) took advantage of a two-day rally in European credit markets to sell Portugal’s first benchmark senior bank bonds in more than two and a half years.

The lender’s 750 million euros ($972 million) of three-year bonds were priced to yield 6 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The sale is the country’s first senior bond without a government guarantee since Banco Comercial Portugues SA priced 300 million euros of three-year bonds in March 2010, data show.

Credit markets have been bouyed by earnings from companies including Barclays Plc and General Motors Co., the largest U.S. automaker, that beat analysts’ estimates. Trading in bonds and equities also restarted in New York after the closure caused by Hurricane Sandy.

“This is a significant event. The funding markets are open to nearly all again,” Suki Mann, a credit strategist at Societe Generale SA in London wrote in a note to clients. “It is major confirmation that the credit markets are now looking at everything much more pragmatically.”

The Markit iTraxx Crossover Index of credit default swaps linked to the debt of 50 mostly junk-rated European companies fell for a second day, dropping as much as 15 basis points to 508, according to prices compiled by Bloomberg.

Strong Demand

“Demand was very strong,” at 3.6 times the amount on offer, said Isabel Almeida, head of the Espitiro Santo’s financial markets department. While the sale was “a very important step” for the bank it doesn’t plan to sell similar bonds this year, she said.

Energias de Portugal SA broke a 20-month deadlock for the country’s corporate borrowers when it sold the country’s first benchmark company debt since January 2011 on Sept. 14. It raised 750 million euros from a sale of five-year bonds, receiving orders worth 7.5 billion euros.

Yield spreads on European bank debt have fallen 138 basis points since the start of June to 179, Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s EUR Corporate, Banking index shows. The index contains 706 bonds from lenders including ABN Amro Bank NV, Italy’s Intesa SanPaolo SpA and UBS AG.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hannah Benjamin in London at hbenjamin1@bloomberg.net

Henrique Almeida in Lisbon at halmeida5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Armstrong at parmstrong10@bloomberg.net

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