Credit-default protection tightened more than 30 basis points on AT&T following buyside demand for a USD10.9 billion global note offering it issued Nov. 15. New York-based credit derivatives traders reported that the U.S. long-distance telephone and cable giant was among the most heavily traded last week. Spreads on AT&T tightened to about 161bps last Tuesday from 210bps a week earlier as interbank market players looked to sell protection. "Essentially what happened was the bond deal was priced very cheap and it caused a buying rally, which brought spreads in," one trader said. The multi-part global bond offering was the fourth-largest corporate bond issue ever. Some USD7 billion was in dollar-denominated notes and bonds while the remaining portion was split into two euro-denominated tranches. The U.S. offering was sold in three portions, a USD1.5 billion 2.58% five-year tranche, a USD2.75 billion 2.78% 10-year tranche and a USD2.75 billion 2.95% 30-year tranche. Press officers at AT&T did not return calls.
According to Rosemarie Kalinowski, a rating analyst at Standard & Poor's in New York, AT&T's BBB plus rating will remain on credit watch for a possible downgrade, despite the recent bond sale because the company has suffered a steep decline in long-distance voice revenue. The revenue drop is expected to continue through next year because of the growth of the competing wireless industry and ongoing competition from the regional telephone companies.