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buy apple developer account (buyappleacc.com):Baidu sells US$1bil of bonds amid crackdown

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,Big investments: Men are seen interacting with a Baidu artificial intelligence or AI robot near the company logo at its headquarters in Beijing. The firm is spending heavily to reposition itself as a major technology player. ― Reuters

HONG KONG: Baidu Inc sold US$1bil (RM4.24bil) of bonds in a two-part sustainable deal, according to people familiar with the matter, marking the first major global debt offering by a Chinese tech firm since Beijing escalated a crackdown on private enterprise.

The Internet search giant, an investment-grade issuer, priced 5.5-year and 10-year notes at 83 basis points and 113 basis points, respectively, above comparable treasuries, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorised to speak about it publicly. A Baidu dollar bond maturing in 2026 traded Wednesday at a spread of 81 basis points, according to Bloomberg-compiled data.

The deal would be the investment-grade issuer’s first dollar bond of this year, with the US$1.95bil (RM8.27bil) of such notes sold in 2020 offering much bigger premiums than the ongoing sale.

Planning to use the proceeds for general corporate purposes and debt repayment, Baidu is spending heavily to reposition itself as an artificial intelligence (AI) company with use cases in everything from ride-hailing to smart speakers and the cloud.

The firm earlier received a US$1bil (RM4.24bil) bond sale quota from the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planning agency. Borrowers can choose whether or not to use the full amount.

Based on Baidu’s outstanding bonds, CreditSights analysts including Joel Liauw estimated in a report that fair value is at 1.63% for the proposed 5.5-year note and 2.42% for the 10-year, respectively offering premiums of 85 and 114 basis points. Nomura International Hong Kong Ltd analyst Clare Guo sees better value in the 10-year bond versus the 5.5-year tenor.

While Baidu so far hasn’t been one of the main targets under Beijing’s campaign to rein in big tech, the clampdown on for-profit after-school tutoring will likely restrict the spending power of some key ad clients.

“There will be some level of risk premium from the China tech crackdowns that Baidu will have to pay,” said Kaveh Namazie, senior credit analyst at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group. “Baidu historically has a fair amount of demand from the United States, and they may see some reduction there given recent headlines from last two months. But for a company like Baidu, they will still have sufficient demand to do the deal.”

Offshore bonds sold by China’s major tech firms have enjoyed robust demand in recent years, with strong support from both local and US buyers.

Xiaomi’s offering in July, for example, attracted more than US$7bil (RM29.68bil) of orders, even as regulators moved to increase scrutiny of the industry.

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