Morgan Stanley capped off the best start to a year in Canadian-dollar corporate-bond sales since 2013 as an improving global economy amid low interest rates creates the right conditions for borrowers and investors alike.
The New York-based bank sold C$1 billion ($768 million) of debt, double the minimum originally indicated, to drive corporate-bond issuance in Canadaâ€™s domestic market to about C$7.9 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Thatâ€™s a 114 percent increase in issuance volume for the same period last year.
Canadaâ€™s bond market looks positively robust compared to last yearâ€™s start, when issuers sat on the sidelines amid concerns about the health of the global economy amid tumbling commodity prices. That uncertainty soon gave way to Canadian corporate issuers heading to the U.S. dollar and euro bond markets for most of the year for better cost of funding.
Borrowing costs have fallen since then. The premium investors demand to hold the bonds over government debt is about 126 basis points, or 1.26 percentage points, the lowest level since June 2015, according to an index of Canadian corporate bonds. The spread was around 184 basis points at the end of January last year.
Banks topped the ranking of the biggest corporate-bond sales in January, with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce pricing C$1.5 billion of three-year notes and Federation des caisses Desjardins du Quebec finding buyers for C$1 billion of five-year securities, its first foray into the Canadian dollar bond market in almost two years.
Morgan Stanley opened books with a target size of at least C$500 million and ended up selling twice as much. The bonds were priced at 152 basis points above the government curve, the lower end of a proposed range, according to a person familiar with the matter, who isnâ€™t authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be identified.
Other issuers included Honda Canada Finance Inc. and Pembina Pipeline Corp., which both sold C$600 million of bonds in two-tranche deals. IGM Financial Inc. also priced a total of C$600 million of 10-year and 30-year bonds upon its return to the debt market after almost six years, while Algonquin Power Co. priced C$300 million of its debut 10-year bonds.
Expectations that interest rates will rise further are likely driving issuers to market, David George, a credit portfolio manager at Connor, Clark & Lunn Investment Management, said by phone from Vancouver.
Susan Rimmer, global head of debt capital markets at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce said investors can expect that more foreign borrowers will follow in Morgan Stanleyâ€™s
â€œWe will continue to see global borrowers evaluate the Canadian fixed-income market as a destination for competitive funding,â€ she said.