Tencent Taps Overseas Debt Amid China New Economy Appeal

Tencent Holdings Ltd., China’s second-biggest Internet company, went overseas for more financing as the nation’s consumer-focused technology companies expand their international clout.

The operator of WeChat, one of the most popular social messaging services in China with about 468 million monthly users, sold a total of $2 billion in a two-part bond sale. That adds to Tencent’s dollar-denominated debt after its last issuance in a $2.5 billion offering in April. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., the competitor founded by billionaire Jack Ma, sold $8 billion of notes in November after raising a record $25 billion in an initial public offering in the U.S. in September.

China’s Premier Li Keqiang, who has championed a move away from reliance on traditional smokestack industries, last month cited “huge potential” in the nation’s domestic demand. The debt offerings give global bond buyers more ways to speculate on China’s economic shift while providing companies access to cheaper funds than onshore.

“We will see more new-economy companies such as IT companies tapping the offshore market,” said Devan Selvanathan, the Hong Kong-based head of Natixis SA’s Asia-Pacific debt platform. “Offshore liquidity is abundant with relatively cheaper rates.”

‘Strong Response’

Tencent’s offering consisted of $1.1 billion of five-year notes with a 2.875 percent coupon and $900 million of 10-year securities with a 3.8 percent coupon for general corporate purposes, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Canny Lo, a spokeswoman at Tencent in Shenzhen, declined to comment on the specific use of proceeds.

The company received $7.5 billion in orders for the 2020 bonds and $9.5 billion for the 2025 debentures, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly.

“The strong response we have seen for this recent offering and for deals from other China Internet companies should encourage a broader range of Chinese technology companies to consider the international bond markets,” said Jon Pratt, the Hong Kong-based head of debt capital markets in Asia for Barclays Plc. “Credit investors are increasingly comfortable with the technology sector and understand the rationale for these companies borrowing money in the bond market to help support the growth of the business.”

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