JPMorgan sells $16.8b in bonds in largest bank deal ever

JPMorgan Chase & Co. sold $US13 billion ($16.8 billion) of bonds on Thursday (US time), the largest deal ever by a bank, taking advantage of some of the cheapest borrowing costs in years to boost its capital after the Federal Reserve let pandemic relief measures lapse.

The deal, which followed the bank’s best quarter ever, hit the market as corporate borrowers continue to see heavy demand for debt that provides a decent premium over Treasuries. Order books grew to about $US26 billion, allowing JPMorgan to trim the interest on the debt from the relatively high spreads it initially offered, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

JPMorgan has now raised $US22 billion in the US dollar investment-grade bond market this year, more than any other major US bank.Credit:Bloomberg

The jumbo offering may have been related to recent changes in regulatory relief for banks, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Arnold Kakuda.

Treasuries liquidity disappeared in March 2020. In response, the Fed told banks they didn’t have to factor in Treasuries or deposits when calculating their supplementary leverage ratios, which tells them how much capital to set aside to back up their holdings. That exemption went away two weeks ago.

Banks were left in the position of needing to sell Treasuries or add capital, and JPMorgan’s sale of unsecured debt will help it meet total loss-absorbing capacity, or TLAC, requirements, and put the ratio back in balance, Kakuda said.

The bank signalled Wednesday that it would do something. “We have levers to manage SLR and we will,” chief financial officer Jennifer Piepszak told analysts on a quarterly earnings call. The company declined to comment further on Thursday.

Including today’s sale, JPMorgan has raised $US22 billion in the US dollar investment-grade bond market this year, more than any other major US bank, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Banks are always going to be hefty issuers, which lends a certain opportunism to tapping the markets especially when funding is still so cheap,” said Jesse Rosenthal, a senior analyst at CreditSights.

The longest portion of the five-part offering, a 31-year security, will yield 107 basis points above Treasuries, according to the person, who asked not to be identified discussing a private transaction. The sale follows strong first-quarter earnings, including a 15% increase in fixed-income, currency and commodity trading revenue and a $US5.2 billion release from its credit reserves. Rival Goldman Sachs also sold bonds on Thursday.

The previous largest bond sale by a bank also came from JPMorgan, a $US10 billion offering in April 2020, the Bloomberg-compiled data show. JPMorgan is the sole bookrunner of the sale, and the proceeds are marked for general corporate purposes.

Bloomberg

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