What's going on?
Big tech companies have had a busy start to the year, with acquisitions and stock market debuts dominating investors’ attention. And China’s second-biggest public company, Tencent, kept the party going on Tuesday as it announced plans for the biggest Asian dollar bond sale of 2019 (tweet this).
What does this mean?
Tencent is kicking off the sale of $5 billion worth of bonds to international investors on Wednesday, pricing them in US dollars as it did with a similar-sized deal last January. The current freeze on US interest rate increases – which may potentially give way to an interest rate cut – has stoked investors’ appetite for bonds: they may now appear more attractive since future bonds could offer lower returns. So Tencent – and, later this month, Japan’s SoftBank – are seemingly taking advantage.
Why should I care?
For markets: Tencent’s plan makes cents.
Tencent will use most of the fresh $5 billion to pay off existing debts which come due next month. It’ll probably use the rest of the cash to fuel its expansion in new high-growth areas like cloud computing and payments – hoping to offset the gulf left by a slowdown in its once-mighty gaming division, which contributed to the company’s biggest-ever profit drop last quarter. Investors buying up Tencent’s stock in support of its plans may have helped its value rise on Tuesday.
For you personally: Sometimes loans can burn investors.
Also on Tuesday, the UK financial regulator warned retail investors – those investing money individually, rather than on behalf of a financial institution – about the potential dangers of risky “innovative finance individual savings accounts” (learn more about those in our handy guide). The regulator’s worry is that these tax-free investment accounts, which often involve making “peer-to-peer” loans, are being marketed alongside straightforward cash savings accounts – where an investor’s money is guaranteed – and therefore potentially misleading investors about the higher level of risk involved.