Debt sales in Europe have broken through €240 billion ($260 billion), beating a previous record for January set in 2020.
Offerings from the UK and European Union on Tuesday pushed marketwide sales this month to at least €244 billion, with the final tally set to move even higher once final terms are set on Tuesday’s eight offerings, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It beats a previous record of just under €239 billion notched up in the same month three years ago.
“Issuers are just becoming more aware that when there’s a window they just need to make sure they get out rather than waiting,” said David Zahn, head of European fixed income at Franklin Templeton, which is overweight on European credit. “This year, the ECB is also going to be quite influential on how its policy rate goes, so issuers are thinking that it is only going to get more expensive to sell bonds, especially if you issue in the shorter end.”
Borrowers have been piling in to public debt markets during a start-of-year global credit rally that’s boosting corporate bond returns and driving down funding costs. Financial institutions in particular have been active, rushing to plug a funding gap as they prepare to shortly repay more of the pandemic-era cheap loans made available by the European Central Bank.
It’s already led to the busiest-week ever for debt deals in the region, with more than €100 billion raised in the five days through January 13 as issuers like Deutsche Bank AG and Credit Agricole SA flocked to the market.
It marks a stunning turnaround from a dismal 2022 for global credit markets, when central banks’ efforts to contain surging inflation buffeted issuance activity and on some days closed the door to any debt sales at all.
Borrowers will price at least €15 billion equivalent in Europe’s debt market on Tuesday, led by a £6 billion ($7.38 billion) UK gilt sale that’s amassed more than £65 billion of orders, according to a person with knowledge of the process, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. A €5 billion offering from the European Union has garnered nearly €52 billion of orders, a separate person with knowledge of that sale said.
Lenders Banco Santander SA, Natwest Markets, ABN Amro and Societe Generale are among a raft of banks that have raised more than €82 billion euros already this year, a level nearly matching the €85 billion of issuance from the sector in the whole of January 2022, Bloomberg data show.
Banks’ senior issuance has “already reached levels that were printed during the whole of January last year,” ING Groep NV strategist Suvi Platerink Kosonen wrote in a note. “January was the busiest primary month last year for bank debt and this year is well on the course to repeat history.”