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Two years after T-Mobile and Sprint announced their merger... setting off numerous battles in the courts... and intense scrutiny on Capitol Hill from lawmakers worried the combination would drive wireless prices higher... America's No. 3 and 4 wireless carriers on Wednesday finally officially completed their $23 billion merger. The combined company will now operate under the T-Mobile name and trade on the Nasdaq under the symbol TMUS. The never-camera-shy CEO of T-Mobile John Legere is stepping down effective immediately. He was originally scheduled to leave at the end of the month. The deal closed after a Federal judge on Wednesday signed off on the Justice Department's okay of the merger, including the order to sell assets to Dish Network. And T-Mobile and Sprint went ahead and agreed to abide by any conditions set forth by a final decision from the California Public Utilities Commission, that will come out on April 16th. The marriage creates a stronger competitor to AT&T and Verizon in the race to roll out 5G wireless technology. Shares of the new T-Mobile managed to hold a gain Wednesday amid a general stock market slump.
Within six years, the new T-Mobile (TMUS) is likely to provide 5G service to 99% of U.S. citizens with average speed of above 100 Mbps to 90% of the population.
(Bloomberg) -- T-Mobile US Inc. sold $19 billion of bonds on Thursday to help finance its acquisition of Sprint Corp., in the second-biggest bond sale this year.Investors placed about $75 billion of orders at the peak for the highly-anticipated bond offering, which started marketing nearly a year ago, according to people with knowledge of the matter. It’s been on the sidelines as the companies had to clear several regulatory hurdles to close the deal, which was further complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic.T-Mobile formally completed its merger with Sprint Wednesday, and was quick to restart marketing for what it said could be a $10 billion bond sale soon after. The proceeds will help refinance a $19 billion bridge loan, likely eliminating the need to raise additional funds through bonds denominated in other currencies including euros.Read more: IG ANALYSIS US: T-Mobile Builds $75b Book, Week Sets New RecordThe mobile carrier sold investment-grade, senior secured bonds in five parts. The longest portion of the offering, a 30-year security, will yield 3.25 percentage points above Treasuries, after initially price talk around 3.75 percentage points, according to one of the people familiar, who asked not to be identified as the details are private.The bond offering quickly gets T-Mobile’s banks out of the vast majority of the $23 billion of debt they had agreed to provide to help finance the merger. After the $19 billion bridge loan is repaid with proceeds from the bond sale, the lenders will keep on their books only a $4 billion seven year-term loan to be syndicated to institutional investors. The loan pays 3 percentage points over the benchmark Libor rate, according to a regulatory filing on Wednesday.At $19 billion, T-Mobile’s sale is the second-largest this year. Oracle Corp. took the top spot for 2020 with a $20 billion offering Monday.Barclays Plc, Deutsche Bank AG and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are managing the bond sale, the person said.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Investors are finally warming up to the high-yield market, piling into a handful of new deals and propelling inflows to a record high.Junk bond funds took in $7.09 billion for the week ended April 1, according to Refinitiv Lipper, setting a new weekly record. The cash influx comes on top of three new high-yield offerings Thursday, opened up by the success of deals from Carnival Corp. and YUM! Brands Inc. earlier this week.Issuers are seeing a resurgence in risk appetite, as massive demand for new bond sales has allowed companies to go bigger and bolder with their debt offerings. T-Mobile US Inc. is issuing $19 billion of secured investment-grade bonds in the year’s second-largest sale, while Tenet Healthcare Corp. and TransDigm Group Inc. were able to boost the size of their high-yield offerings.Investment-grade issuance in the U.S. set a new weekly record, with T-Mobile and Oracle Corp. pushing supply to $110.9 billion through Thursday, edging past last week’s total. Issuers came forward with strong reception despite a record high number of U.S. jobless claims, on top of 17 new deals in Europe.Credit investors’ desire for European corporate debt showed no sign of easing as they threw more than 70 billion euros ($76.5 billion) toward new European bond offerings in just one day. Among the big ones today were oil majors BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, taking advantage of rising oil prices after China said it would boost its reserves.“Primary market activity has resumed with a vengeance,” said Wolfgang Bauer, a fund manager at M&G Plc. “It’s fair to say that market functionality in the European investment-grade market, particularly on the primary market side, has noticeably improved over the past week.”U.S.T-Mobile was by far the largest deal on the docket today, and the second-largest this year coming behind Oracle. Investment-grade issuance reached $32.1 billion Thursday.Tenet, TransDigm and Restaurant Brands are bringing high-yield offerings, following YUM! Brands which reopened that market MondayCarnival, though technically investment-grade rated, was run off the high-yield syndicate desks and was able to boost the size and cut the coupon WednesdayFor deal updates, click here for the New Issue MonitorFunds that invest in high-yield corporate debt saw investors add $7.09 billion for the week ended Wednesday, according to Refinitiv Lipper data. Investment-grade funds saw continued outflows as $8.47 billion was withdrawn Boeing is offering buyouts to its entire staff of 161,000 people and weighing new output reductionsPimco sees opportunities in bonds issued by high-quality companies in the utility, power, health care, cable and telecom sectors, according to Mark Kiesel, the firm’s chief investment officer for global creditBankrupt shale driller Alta Mesa Resources has a tentative deal to sell itself for $220 million, down from $320 million before the buyer demanded a discount because of the coronavirus pandemicBanks that agreed to help finance leveraged buyouts are starting to feel the pain from a freeze in the market for risky corporate debtEuropeOil giants BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and OMV AG all offered euro notes Thursday, capitalizing on a boost in oil prices after China moved forward with plans to bolster its reserves.Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets Plc and British American Tobacco Plc rounded out a total of 17 issuers that sold EU25.46bRampant demand has allowed companies to chop pricing on their bonds, with Schneider Electric SE pulling in a staggering 8.8 billion euros of orders for a 500 million-euro seven-year noteMore triple-B rated companies dove into the market, including LafargeHolcim“While last week the focus had still been firmly on issuers at the higher end of the investment-grade quality spectrum, this week BBB-rated issuers have joined the new issue pipeline,” said M&G’s BauerCorporate bond spreads continue to ease from the highest levels since 2012, falling 3 basis points to 239 basis points on WednesdayDefault-swaps insuring the highest-rated corporate debt remain elevated at about 105 basis points. Nonetheless, this compares to a peak of about 138 basis points reached last month, according to a Bloomberg Barclays indexBanks may ask authorities to advise against calls on some instruments if the economy deteriorates further, Jakub Lichwa, a strategist at Royal Bank of Canada, wrote in a noteAsiaThursday was a down day for credit in Asia. Yield premiums on Asian dollar bonds and the cost of insuring debt against default in the region both increased, as more dour news on the coronavirus pandemic limited risk-taking. Read more about that here.Spreads on top-rated Asian dollar bonds were around 10 basis points wider Thursday, according to traders, after rising 3 basis points Wednesday. They are headed for a seventh straight week of increases, the longest such streak in more than a year, according to a Bloomberg Barclays indexThe Markit iTraxx Asia ex-Japan index of credit-default swaps rose about 5-8 basis points on Thursday, according traders. The gauge widened 13 on Wednesday, according to CMA dataChinese investment-grade dollar bonds may continue to outperform other emerging-market peers, says Todd Schubert, head of fixed-income research at Bank of Singapore Ltd. Better-rated Chinese notes are often government related and seem to be considered a safe haven in emerging economies, he saysSouth Korea’s 20 trillion won ($16 billion) bond stabilization fund started buying corporate notes and commercial paper from today, the Financial Services Commission said. The regulator believes the fund will act as a safety net for the marketA sale of asset-backed securities by Korean Air Lines Co. showed carriers pummeled by the coronavirus outbreak can still issue debt, though at a steep cost. Here’s a chart showing the tumble in the airline’s dollar notes:For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- A headline from three days ago read “Banks Stuck With $23 Billion of Loans for T-Mobile’s Sprint Deal.” A group of 16 banks would have to provide money to T-Mobile US Inc. to close its planned acquisition of Sprint Corp. because they couldn’t sell debt to third-party investors. T-Mobile would refinance the bridge loan in the bond market as soon as financing conditions improved.Well, that was quick.The mobile carrier plans to tap the corporate-bond market Thursday with a deal of about $10 billion, with proceeds helping repay that $19 billion bridge credit agreement (it signed a new $4 billion term loan on Wednesday as well). Even though it’s one of the biggest debt sales of the year, financial markets still remain highly volatile and T-Mobile’s credit rating was cut this week deeper into speculative grade, the company received more than $30 billion of orders from investors, Bloomberg News’s Molly Smith reported.That’s impressive, considering that the initial pricing levels for this investment-grade offering were already favorable for the company. T-Mobile’s 10-year bonds are expected to yield around 375 basis points more than benchmark Treasuries, Bloomberg News reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. By comparison, a Bloomberg Barclays index of triple-B corporate bonds with an average maturity of 11.75 years has a spread of 359 basis points, near the lowest since March 18. That’s close enough — and it’s likely that T-Mobile’s gap will narrow with such a large order book.It’s even more interesting to compare this new deal, with the lowest investment grades of Baa3 by Moody’s Investors Service and BBB- by S&P Global Ratings, and T-Mobile’s last offering in January 2018, which is speculative grade. The company priced 10-year bonds at the time at a spread of 209 basis points more than Treasuries, to yield 4.75%. T-Mobile’s spreads are now much wider, even though this new debt is “senior-secured,” but 10-year U.S. yields are more than 200 basis points lower than they were 26 months ago. That means the all-in 10-year yield for T-Mobile will probably be about 4.35% — a good deal lower than the previous rate.This is important context to remember for both companies and bond buyers. The rapid price swings across markets in the past month and the focus on yield spreads have somewhat masked the fact that whenever the outlook starts to stabilize, borrowing costs will once again be as low as ever for creditworthy corporations. The benchmark 10-year yield is a mere 0.6%, near the all-time low closing level of 0.54% set on March 9. Bank of America Corp. technical strategists said in a report Thursday that the benchmark could reach 0% this quarter and potentially even turn negative if governments struggle to contain the coronavirus outbreak.With so much uncertainty, it’s understandable that T-Mobile seized on this window to get on with its plans. It formally completed its merger with Sprint on Wednesday morning. Mike Sievert, who was named chief executive officer, told Bloomberg TV on Wednesday that the timing of the bond sale relative to the bridge loan was “coincidental.” The fact that the group of banks was ready to help get the acquisition over the finish line was the most prudent first step, he said. Then the company deemed the market had thawed enough to borrow.“We’ve been watching the markets over the past few days and seeing an improving condition for us to go to the market with this investment-grade offer. Today looked like the right day,” Sievert said. “The last couple of days, obviously we were in the process of taking down the bridge and we had the merger news that made the last couple of days the wrong time to be in the market.”Obviously, T-Mobile would have had a better borrowing backdrop a few months ago. But large companies are rarely in position to perfectly time the market. In most cases, good reception is enough. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Brian Chappatta is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering debt markets. He previously covered bonds for Bloomberg News. He is also a CFA charterholder.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- SoftBank Group Corp. scrapped an agreement to spend $3 billion to buy WeWork stock from former Chief Executive Officer Adam Neumann and other shareholders, despite threats of legal action from some members of the company’s board.SoftBank had agreed to buy the shares from Neumann, Benchmark Capital and others as part of a bailout package last year, but notified stockholders in mid-March that conditions for the deal hadn’t been met. On Thursday, after the deal’s deadline passed, SoftBank confirmed it would end the offer, citing five conditions that were not satisfied by the closing date.“SoftBank remains fully committed to the success of WeWork and has taken significant steps to strengthen the company since October, including newly committed capital, the development of a new strategic plan for WeWork and the hiring of a new, world-class management team,” said Rob Townsend, chief legal officer at the company. “The tender offer was an offer to buy shares directly from other major stockholders and its termination has no impact on WeWork’s operations or customers.”SoftBank shares rose 2.5% while the broader Japan market fell.A WeWork committee of two independent directors voiced disagreement over SoftBank’s decision and suggested there may be legal action.“The Special Committee is surprised and disappointed at this development, and remains committed to reaching a resolution that is in the best interest of WeWork and its minority shareholders, including WeWork’s employees and former employees. The Special Committee will evaluate all of its legal options, including litigation,” the committee, made up of Benchmark’s Bruce Dunlevie and another director, Lew Frankfort, said in an emailed statement.The share purchase was hammered out in October as part of SoftBank’s rescue of WeWork, after the co-working company’s failed initial public offering left it weeks away from running out of money. In the deal, the Japanese conglomerate would have taken a stake of almost 80% in the company and buy $3 billion in shares from investors as well as current and former employees. Neumann, ousted in the deal, was set to sell up to $970 million in shares. The generous exit package angered many of his employees, thousands of whom had their jobs eliminated in the following months as WeWork parent We Co. tried to cut its expenses.WeWork signs long-term leases with landlords around the world and then rents that space to smaller companies and freelance workers, a business that has been particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus and economic slowdown. In a letter to bondholders, the company warned it didn’t expect to hit its financial targets for 2020.“Given our fiduciary duty to our shareholders, it would be irresponsible of SoftBank to ignore the fact that the conditions were not satisfied and to nevertheless consummate the tender offer,” Townsend said.In the past few weeks, the shareholder buyout deal has become increasingly contentious. SoftBank sent the letter to WeWork investors saying it could withdraw from the agreement if certain conditions weren’t met by the deadline. SoftBank cited regulatory concerns and a handful of government investigations into WeWork, including from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department.The two WeWork independent board directors responded, saying they would consider legal action if SoftBank pulled out. “Its excuses for not trying to close are inappropriate and dishonest,” a spokeswoman for the directors had said in a statement.The latest deal is separate from SoftBank’s bailout of WeWork itself, a package that included $5 billion in new financing and the acceleration of an earlier $1.5 billion commitment. Most of the money would have gone to five shareholders, including Neumann and the venture capital firm Benchmark, which was looking to sell $600 million in shares, Bloomberg has reported. Less than 10% of the proceeds would have gone to current WeWork employees, SoftBank has said.Still, the transaction has repercussions for WeWork. As part of the deal, the company would have gotten $1.1 billion in debt financing from SoftBank if the share purchase was completed. The Japanese company has decided it is not legally obligated to provide that capital, although it may yet do so, according to a person familiar with the matter.SoftBank and its affiliates have committed more than $14.25 billion to WeWork to date, including $5.45 billion since October, the company said in its statement. WeWork had $4.4 billion in pro forma cash and cash commitments at the end of 2019, SoftBank said.Separately, SoftBank said it completed the sale of its U.S. unit Sprint Corp. to T-Mobile US Inc. The deal removes about $40 billion in net debt from the Japanese conglomerate’s balance sheet.(Updates with details on financing in 13th paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- After closing an industry-altering U.S. wireless deal, Deutsche Telekom AG’s Chief Executive Officer Tim Hoettges now wants to change telecommunication markets closer to home. Europe’s phone industry needs mergers if it wants to build the kind of superior infrastructure needed to compete with bigger rivals in Asia and the U.S., Hoettges said Wednesday. He indicated he’s willing to get the German carrier involved in M&A to achieve that goal. “Europe is too fragmented,” Hoettges said in a phone interview. “Wherever I see a deal or an opportunity for European market consolidation that’s convincing, then I would always look at that with the partners.”Deutsche Telekom’s U.S. unit T-Mobile US Inc. on Wednesday completed its $26.5 billion acquisition of Sprint Corp. after a years-long saga that included a standoff with antitrust officials and a court battle with U.S. states. Hoettges pushed for the combination for years to give the company a stronger vehicle to expand in the profitable U.S. market. T-Mobile’s importance for Deutsche Telekom has grown steadily and it now accounts for about half of sales, up from around a third in 2014.“Our goal is to become the number-one in the U.S. market,” Hoettges said.T-Mobile and Sprint scrapped a previous plan to merge in 2014 after meeting resistance in Washington. Their second attempt failed in late 2017 when Hoettges and Masayoshi Son, the chairman of Sprint’s parent company SoftBank Group Corp., couldn’t agree on how to structure control of the combined entity, people familiar with the matter said at the time.Hoettges brought the merger back from the dead a few months later. On Jan. 1, 2018, he took out his phone and tapped out an SMS to Son, wishing him a happy New Year and expressing regret that the merger hadn’t happened. It reignited a conversation that culminated in Wednesday’s deal.It frees Hoettges to focus on markets in Europe, where more than 100 wireless carriers vie for airwaves and customers. Outside Deutsche Telekom’s business in Germany, where it competes with Vodafone Group Plc and Telefonica SA, Deutsche Telekom has units in countries from Poland to the Netherlands and Romania.“Of course I was very much focused on America,” Hoettges said. “But I will work with verve on changing the regulatory and antitrust-law framework” in Europe to help bring about the consolidation the region needs, he said.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Amid all the economic despair in the age of coronavirus, there is still something about the promise of sky-high returns that the American investor finds irresistible.Cruise line operator Carnival Corp. proved that Wednesday when investors clamored to buy a new $4 billion bond sale that pays interest of 11.5%, one of the highest coupons ever offered, particularly by an investment-grade rated company. Demand was so frenzied -- as high as around $17 billion -- that Carnival was able to cut the coupon and increase the original size of the offering by an extra $1 billion, according to people familiar with the situation.Even with the economy spinning down, corporations around the globe have been able to tap the bond market to raise record amounts from investors in recent weeks. While executives are looking to stay liquid, investors’ confidence was buoyed by the trillions of dollars the Federal Reserve and other central banks are spending to buttress their economies.The demand for Carnival’s bonds was especially notable because investors have largely shunned riskier firms. Its business has been ravaged by the virus and investors still can’t be sure when the company will sail again. Appropriately enough, the majority of orders for Carnival’s offering are from junk-bond accounts.Yields that approach Carnival’s heights are usually seen only on the riskiest types of junk bonds, such as those issued from holding companies that are further removed from real assets or those that give borrowers the option to delay cash interest payments.A flurry of other bond deals Wednesday continued a strong performance for much of March, with 11 new investment-grade dollar deals, and T-Mobile US Inc. is marketing a potential $10 billion offering for its acquisition of Sprint Corp. Europe had 17 new deals, its busiest day since January, including Tiffany buyer LVMH and Absolut Vodka maker Pernod Ricard SA.Overall in March, U.S. investment-grade issuance topped $259 billion for a new monthly record, while European supply passed 135 billion euros ($148 billion), the most since 2016. Asia’s dollar market was quiet for most of the month, though Chinese internet search giant Baidu Inc. announced a deal to start April.Still, returns were dismal. Even with the Fed’s help fueling a late stage rally, March was still the worst month for returns since the end of 2008, with U.S. high-yield down 11.5% and investment grade dropping 7.1%. The European index lost 6.9% in March, its biggest loss ever. Spreads on top-rated Asian dollar bonds ended the first quarter 146 basis points wider, the worst blowout since 2009.“We expect issuance to continue as corporates look to bolster liquidity,” said Henrik Johnsson, co-head of capital markets at Deutsche Bank AG. “The long term effect of all this debt is hard to quantify.”U.S.Credit markets weakened with stocks on Wednesday as President Donald Trump told the U.S. to brace for one of its toughest stretches as a nation, with the death toll from the virus projected to potentially top 200,000. The high-grade borrowing bonanza showed no signs of abating with 11 companies launching $28.5 billion in new debt, meaning 36 issuers have already priced $78.8 billion this weekT-Mobile has hired banks to market its secured bond offering to investors, which may come Thursday in dollars and/or euros with maturities ranging from five to 40 yearsCarnival wrapped up its $4 billion bond sale after boosting the dollar component, dropping the euro tranche and getting a two-notch downgrade from Moody’s Investors Service on TuesdayAB InBev is testing investor demand with a four-part offering of maturities due between 10 and 40 years, capitalizing on interest lately in the long end. It sold 4.5 billion euros of bonds Monday, and may need to cut its dividend to preserve ratingsFor deal updates, click here for the New Issue MonitorOil producer Whiting Petroleum filed for bankruptcy, the first big casualty of a global collapse in crude prices that’s leaving debt-laden shale explorers struggling to surviveEuropeSeventeen deals priced Wednesday in the primary market’s busiest day for more than two months, totaling 26.8 billion euros. It follows the best-ever quarter for debt sales, with more than 510 billion euros priced, mainly reflecting huge volumes at the start of the year, and lots of reverse Yankee issuance.Borrowers including LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE and Absolut Vodka maker Pernod Ricard SA are leading a calendar set to price 26.57 billion eurosInvestors have thrown almost 100 billion euros worth of cash at today’s deals, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, led by demand for offerings from Portugal, Total Capital International SA, a euro green note offered by Spain’s Iberdrola Finanzas SA, LVMH and Pernod RicardSpreads on euro IG company bonds remain elevated but have fallen about 8 basis points from multi-year highs reached on March 24, according to a Bloomberg Barclays indexSpanish bankers and lawyers are bracing for a steep surge in insolvencies, amid the country’s rising death toll and strict lockdown measures. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has announced 117 billion euros of fiscal stimulus, but some business leaders say aspects of the government’s response risk making things worseEuropean banks may get more time to meet loss-absorbing debt targets, the euro-area’s Single Resolution Board said. It’s ready to adapt transition periods and interim targets to help them deal with the coronavirus falloutAsiaThe rebound in global bond sales in recent weeks has so far eluded Asia. After record issuance in January, sales of dollar securities by the region’s issuers, including financials and sovereigns, sputtered in the first quarter, totaling about $86 billion, up only about 3% on the year-earlier periodOne reason for that is that unprecedented stimulus from the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank has had more direct benefits in the U.S. and European marketsAnother factor is that Asian companies have been able to tap local-currency markets. Chinese companies sold a record amount of domestic bonds in March, for example, after Beijing flooded markets with cashBut there have been signs in recent days that more borrowers may offer dollar debt. Chinese tech giant Baidu Inc. was marketing an offering WednesdaySpreads on top-rated Asian dollar bonds were 10-20 basis points wider Wednesday, according to traders. They ended the first quarter 146 basis points wider, the worst blow-out in a Bloomberg Barclays index going back to 2009For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
After months of regulatory maneuvering, T-Mobile and Sprint officially completed their $26 billion merger today. The new combined parent company is called T-Mobile and will now trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol TMUS with Sprint no longer trading on the NYSE. T-Mobile did not comment on the future of the Sprint brand in today's announcement, but they have previously promised that subscribers will have access to "the same or better rate plans" for three years as part of the deal.
T-Mobile (TMUS) has an impressive earnings surprise history and currently possesses the right combination of the two key ingredients for a likely beat in its next quarterly report.
Range Resources (RRC) believes that once the short-term headwinds subside, the pricing scenario of natural gas will improve since the worldwide demand for cleaner fuel is mounting.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- A whole generation of tech startups was built on the premise that the most lucrative business models aim to connect people or businesses on one side of the marketplace with people or businesses on the other side.Whether Tinder, Uber Technologies Inc. or Airbnb Inc., the platform theory held that acting as a facilitator for someone else’s offering meant you could scrape off commission while maintaining an asset-light business whose low operational costs rewarded you with high profitability. But no one foresaw an event that would shut down a whole side of the marketplace, and the coronavirus pandemic has done just that. For Airbnb, self-isolation means that nobody is travelling. There is plenty of supply with millions of listings still on the site, but the demand has all but evaporated. The same goes for Uber rides.In food delivery, it’s the supply side that has difficulties. On the whole, services like Uber Eats, Grubhub Inc., Deliveroo and Just Eat Takeaway depend on existing restaurants to cook meals. But for many, if not most, of those restaurants, the main business was still preparing food for on-site dining. Now that’s not possible in the U.K., France, Italy and elsewhere, continuing to operate as a delivery-only operation fundamentally changes the economics of the business: Restaurants still have operating costs, except now they might have to direct a quarter of their income to the food delivery platforms. Many have simply shut their doors completely because they can’t make it work. Chinese delivery platform Meituan Dianping is already feeling the impact, as my colleague Tim Culpan wrote yesterday. (Uber Eats and Grubhub are trying to counter the trend by subsidizing some restaurant costs.)Which is why companies like HelloFresh SE and Blue Apron Holdings Inc., long the subject of Silicon Valley derision, suddenly seem to have very sensible business models. On the surface, they are similar to the food delivery platforms: They too deliver food.The difference is that, because they deliver meal kits they put together in their own kitchens, they control the supply, whereas a firm like Deliveroo has to worry about ensuring it has enough restaurants and customers. HelloFresh’s concern is simply demand. Even then, there’s less need for as high a density of demand than for takeaway food — though of course it helps. Because customers cook the meals themselves, there’s less anxiety about a dish congealing in the panniers of a moped. While Deliveroo has started operating some of its own kitchens, it still has to compete with Grubhub, Just Eat Takeaway and Uber Eats on two fronts. HelloFresh can concentrate on one: customers.The upshot is that business is soaring for the meal-kit firms. HelloFresh said Monday it’s expecting first-quarter sales of between 685 million euros ($750 million) and 710 million euros, up from 420 million euros a year earlier. Analysts had been expecting revenue of 553 million euros. The company anticipates adjusted first-quarter Ebitda of as much as 75 million euros — in just three months, it's set to make about three quarters of the profit that analysts had anticipated for the full year. Uber, which isn't expected to be profitable at all on a similar basis until 2022, has seen just a 10% jump in U.S. orders at its food delivery business, according to The Information.HelloFresh stock is up 70% this year, valuing the Berlin-based firm at 5.2 billion euros — more than Grubhub or grocers Casino Guichard Perrachon SA and Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc. Beleaguered Blue Apron’s shares have jumped more than fourfold from a March 13 low, giving it a $156 million market capitalization, though its ability to capitalize on surging demand is more limited — it has been cutting costs in recent months. Meanwhile HelloFresh is expanding: It plans to add 400 employees at a site in Oxfordshire, near London, according to the BBC.Silicon Valley dogma tends to dictate that assets are bad. But in some instances, more control over the factors of supply can be very satisfying indeed.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Alex Webb is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Europe's technology, media and communications industries. He previously covered Apple and other technology companies for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Standard & Poor’s said Tuesday that its S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index rose for the sixth straight month but it's unclear what direction home prices will go due to CoVID-19.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The various levels of lockdown and quarantine across China haven’t proven a golden opportunity for the biggest food delivery and bookings company, a warning for on-demand service providers elsewhere as more of the world stays at home to avoid the coronavirus.Meituan Dianping says it will post a loss for the first quarter ending Tuesday following a decline in revenue. The Beijing-based company’s business consists of three main divisions — food delivery, restaurant and travel bookings, and other services such as car hailing, bike rental and groceries.Bookings, which account for around 23% of revenue, took the biggest hit. That was predictable. Consumers aren’t keen to take a seat at a restaurant or a night at a hotel amid a deadly disease outbreak, and widespread travel curbs meant moving around China wasn’t an option.Food was more of a surprise. Two months ago amid the Lunar New Year break, I theorized that such deliveries — at 56% of Meituan’s revenue — might bounce back quickly as customers opted to stay in rather than eat out. I was wrong.Thousands of vendors on Meituan’s platform were forced to close either voluntarily or by mandate, and thus couldn’t provide meals. Those who did stay open were often met with fear and complications on the demand side.Many customers had concerns not only over the safety of meals coming from restaurants, but the drivers who delivered them. Those still willing to order online were met with layers of challenges as local governments, neighborhoods and buildings exercised strict controls over who could come and go. There was no supply bottleneck for drivers; Meituan noted plenty of capacity on hand.Three weeks ago, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. said that its own courier and food delivery services, Cainiao and ele.me, were back to full staffing. But the food business was still down because many restaurants remained closed.An upside has been grocery delivery. Meituan’s two services, self-operated and marketplace, have seen strong growth during the crisis, a trend that echoes what Alibaba experienced with its Freshippo service. In many cities, consumers either cannot or prefer not to step out to shop. They’re apparently less afraid of groceries brought to their door than fresh-cooked meals.Even as China returns to a certain level of normalcy, food delivery may struggle for another few months. Most companies are maintaining degrees of isolation, such as working from home or rotating shifts. Taking lunches to places of business is normally an important part of the consumption scenario. As investors start to ponder the outlook for Delivery Hero SE, Just Eat Takeaway, and GrubHub Inc., they’d do well to look at how their China peers have fared during the virus battle. Collectively, these companies get most of their revenue from Western markets that are now imposing lockdowns to battle the pandemic. They’re implementing contact-free and non-cash deliveries to make customers feel safe.That may not be enough. While it’s true that people still have to eat, China’s experience shows that this doesn’t mean consumers will necessarily order delivery or that restaurants can supply them.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tim Culpan is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- If exchange-traded funds are the fast food of investing, then private equity is the private kitchen. As the world spirals into a recession and the coronavirus pandemic batters your retirement accounts, wealthy investors who bought into assets from unicorns to paintings can hide in an elite bubble that isn’t subject to brutal mark-to-market fair value writedowns.But once in a while, a high-profile unicorn hunter can blow the lid off that opaque world, giving us a glimpse of just how much pain private equity is in. Sometimes, private kitchens churn out terrible dishes, too.Investors are fleeing as SoftBank Group Corp., which runs the $100 billion Vision Fund, scrambles to shore up its balance sheet, as well as those of its portfolio companies. SoftBank gives a good feel for the landscape, because it behaves more like a private equity firm than an angel investor: Its capital is really debt, and it likes to invest in rivals and force them to merge. SoftBank is seeking to raise billions to support its unicorns battered by the coronavirus outbreak, saving those that still show potential and cutting loose the ones that bleed too much cash. On the one hand, it’s in talks to lead a fresh $100 million funding round for Plenty Inc., perhaps because the indoor farming startup can benefit from panic buying of fresh produce. On the other, OneWeb, a satellite operator, has filed for bankruptcy.SoftBank’s desperate scramble must resonate with many private equity firms out there, whose portfolio companies will inevitably need their patrons’ help. By early March, industry titans Blackstone Group Inc. and Carlyle Group Inc. already urged businesses they’ve invested in to do whatever it takes to stave off a credit crunch. But with blue chips drawing at least $124 billion from their credit lines in the first three weeks of March, and dollar funding this tight, will lenders have the bandwidth to aid smaller companies? Banks certainly have much bigger deals to digest: They’ll need to come up with $23 billion of loans soon for T-Mobile USA Inc. to close its merger with Sprint Corp.Granted, for private equity firms, cash levels are at a record high. Last year, capital committed to this sector grew 20% to $1.3 trillion, estimates Pitchbook, a Morningstar company. But instead of buying new assets, firms may have to earmark a good chunk of that money for existing investments, either recapitalizing — like what Softbank has done for basket case WeWork — or leading unplanned funding rounds.Meanwhile, making capital calls to investors can’t be much fun right now. Even the best of them — pension funds and sovereign wealth funds — are dealing with their own crises and may not want to pick up your calls right away, especially if it means selling other assets at deep discounts just to come up with your money. Plus, we now all have the convenient excuse of working from home: Some of us are hiding in the woods (or the Hamptons), away from the raging virus, and may not have good cellphone reception.Just look at SoftBank. As of December, only about 75% of the Vision Fund’s committed capital is with the fund, and the company still needs to call $17.5 billion from third-party investors, its latest filing shows. Since then, Saudi Arabia, a major investor, has started an oil price war, further diminishing its fiscal power. So forget about Vision Fund 2; founder Masayoshi Son needs to fill up 1.0 first. In the last decade, private equity firms piled vast amount of debt onto their portfolio companies to boost returns. More than 75% of deals in the sector included debt multiples greater than six times Ebitda in 2019, compared with 25% after the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., according to Pitchbook. When liquidity recedes, these investments are in trouble.To make matters worse, portfolio companies’ ability to service debt is even worse than it looks on paper, because Wall Street lawyers and bankers often juice earnings to make purchase prices look more reasonable, and so underwriters can originate more loans and earn more fees. In 2016, businesses involved in a merger or leveraged buyout missed their own earnings projections by an average of 35% in the first year after the deal, Bloomberg Businessweek reported in December.So imagine the coronavirus world, where any prior earnings projections feel as outdated as “Sex and the City” stars prancing around Central Park in Manolo Blahniks. Just as social distancing is becoming the norm, so too will corporate defaults. The global rate could climb to 16.1% if the pandemic brings economic conditions that mirror the Great Recession, Moody’s Investors Services warned last week.In private equity, fancy terms like total addressable market or adjusted Ebitda are often used to make a company look more profitable than it is. But the coronavirus is unraveling all that. Just like the rest of world, private markets are also suffering. Ray Dalio’s “cash is trash” motto is so yesterday. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Shuli Ren is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Asian markets. She previously wrote on markets for Barron's, following a career as an investment banker, and is a CFA charterholder.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- A group of sixteen banks will have to provide $23 billion of loans to T-Mobile US Inc. in order to allow the mobile carrier to close its planned acquisition of Sprint Corp., after the Covid-19 outbreak disrupted plans to sell the debt to third-party investors.The banks were formally notified Monday that they will need to make the funds available on April 1, so that the two companies can finalize their long-awaited merger, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the conversations are private.The banks will have to come up with the loan at a time when they’re already being hit by requests from companies to draw billions of dollars from revolving credit facilities. Companies in the Americas have tapped lenders for more than $190 billion through existing revolvers or new short-term loans since March 9, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.Read more: Wall Street is quietly telling companies not to draw their loansEven though T-Mobile and Sprint are junk-rated, the financing for the merger has been structured in a way to receive investment-grade ratings, the people said. As such, it’s considered less risky than debt arranged by banks to finance leveraged buyouts and other corporate takeovers by high-yield companies. Still, it’s the largest acquisition financing deal to get stuck on banks’ balance sheets since the 2008 financial crisis, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.Among the sixteen banks, Barclays Plc, Credit Suisse Group AG, Deutsche Bank AG, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and Royal Bank of Canada are those with the largest exposure, according to a company filing.Representatives for the six banks declined to comment or did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A representative for T-Mobile declined to comment and referred to a March 19 statement in which the company said it was financially prepared to close the merger based on commitments it had previously obtained.Banks will provide $19 billion through a 364-day bridge loan that is expected to be refinanced by investment-grade bonds and a $4 billion seven-year term loan that is also expected to be rated high-grade, the people said.The investment-grade bond market has sprung back to life after being shut for most of February and following sporadic issuance in early March due to volatility. Last week, U.S. companies borrowed a record $109 billion, while Oracle Corp. is wrapping up a $20 billion deal Monday, the biggest since November.T-Mobile has indicated that it plans to refinance the bridge loan in the bond market soon, once financing conditions have further improved, one of the people added.Below is the full list of banks participating in the financing with their share of the total.(Updates with allocation list at end of story.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
To the annoyance of some shareholders, TransDigm Group (NYSE:TDG) shares are down a considerable 35% in the last...