Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Citi's 11% convertible bond placement with Abu Dhabi

I was wondering what forced Citi to place this $7.5 billion bond at such a high yield. After-all, Citi can raise high-yield debt at less than 9%. And this bond has a convertible option, so the yield should have been lesser.

Then I read this statement in Citi's press release - "The payment rate reflects market terms based on the conversion premium as well as Citi's current dividend yield." Citi's current dividend yield is 7%. So the yield on bond is 4%. Is this the correct way to think about it? Maybe yes. After-all, why will anyone buy a mandatorily converible bond if the bond yield is less than the current dividend yield. The investor would be better off simply buying the stock in the open market.

For Citi, this is better than selling stock at current depressed price of $30 (conversion price is $31.83 to $37.24). But it would have been better if they had stuck this deal when the stock was at $40 a month ago, when the full extent of their SIV troubles was already known. At that time they could have saved 2%-3% in interest cost, besides striking a higher conversion price.

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