J&J, Kraft Heinz Join Biggest Global Borrowing Binge in Months

Johnson & Johnson sold 4 billion euros ($4.6 billion) of bonds, its first sale in the single currency since 2007, putting corporate debt issuance in Europe within reach of a weekly record.

The world’s largest maker of health-care products sold securities maturing between 2022 and 2035, according to a person familiar with the sales who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to discuss it publicly. Kraft Heinz Co. and General Motors Financial Co. also sold notes, helping push the week’s tally to about 20 billion euros, the data show. Issuance in the U.S. is on track to be the busiest week this year.

Some of the world’s biggest companies are piling into the European and American bond markets to take advantage of global borrowing costs pushed toward record lows amid central-bank stimulus in the euro area and Japan. Even at such low yields, the offerings are still attractive to investors struggling to make a profit in a world where $9.2 trillion of bonds have negative yields.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see more and more corporate issuance,” said Jack McIntyre, a money manager in Philadelphia at Brandywine Global Investment Management. “The cost of financing is just a lot less today than it has been in the past year or so.”

J&J sold 1 billion euros of notes due in five years, 750 million euros each of eight-year and 12-year notes and 1.5 billion euros of 19-year bonds, the data show. Kraft Heinz issued 1.8 billion euros of debt and Total SA sold 1.75 billion euros of hybrid bonds. General Motors Financial and Volvo Car Group sold 500 million euros of notes each.

Nearing Record

Companies are flocking to the market in Europe after demand built up during blackout periods related to earnings and because of national holidays in the region last week. U.S. issuers are taking advantage of low Treasury rates and equities gains to frontload deals before the summer sales slowdown sets in.

In Europe, issuance is nearing the 24 billion-euro record set in the five days ended March 18 when Anheuser-Busch InBev SA set a single-issue record with a 13.25 billion-euro sale.

Officials at J&J and Kraft Heinz declined to comment on the sales. Spokespeople at General Motors Financial couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

“While we’re not anywhere out of the woods, investors are a little bit more comfortable taking risk than they were,” said Jody Lurie, a credit analyst at Janney Montgomery Scott. Subdued issuance during the first-quarter commodities rout has also contributed to a backlog of deals.

The European Central Bank’s inclusion of corporate debt in its quantitative easing shopping list has driven borrowing costs in euros to the lowest in a year, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch index data.

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