For shareholder reward, Apple issued bonds rather than use cash

  • Article by: SARIKA GANGAR , Bloomberg News
  • Updated: April 29, 2014 - 8:56 PM

To avoid tax hits on its offshore cash, Apple issued $12 billion in bonds.

 

Apple Inc. issued $12 billion of dollar-denominated bonds Tuesday, locking in a cheaper alternative for a planned reward to shareholders rather than using overseas cash that’s subject to repatriation taxes.

The sale included $2.5 billion of 3.45 percent, 10-year notes that pay 77 basis points more than similar-maturity Treasuries, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

By taking on more debt, Apple is sticking to its efforts to keep its U.S. tax bill low. Borrowing costs in the bond market are much lower than the levy on any money repatriated on Apple’s balance sheet that’s considered to be held overseas. Of the $151 billion Apple has in cash and marketable securities, about 88 percent is held offshore, the company said last week.

“They don’t want to pay the tax to bring it back to the U.S.,” said Matthew Duch, a fund manager at Calvert Investments in Bethesda, Md., which oversees more than $12 billion in assets, and was considering buying part of the offering. “The market is giving them very cheap money.”

The company’s strong growth and international expansion in recent years has built up “substantial offshore cash balances,” said Luca Maestri, who will soon take over as Apple’s chief financial officer, during the company’s earnings conference last Wednesday.

“To repatriate our foreign cash under current U.S. tax law, we would incur significant tax consequences and we don’t believe this would be in the best interest of our shareholders,” Maestri said.

Apple returned to debt markets to fund a $30 billion increase to its shareholder-reward program that also prompted its unprecedented $17 billion offering last year.

The company said last week it will seek to raise an amount this year “similar” to what it issued in 2013.

That would about double its debt load to put it within the 20 largest U.S. corporate borrowers excluding financial issuers and place it in the company of bond-market stalwarts Procter & Gamble Co. and Deere & Co., according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Deutsche Bank AG and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. managed the offering.

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