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Nov 20, 2017

Bombardier taps bond markets to raise up to $1.15B

FILE PHOTO: A Bombardier CSeries aircraft is pictured during a news conference to announce a partnership between Airbus and Bombardier on the C Series aircraft programme, in Colomiers near Toulouse

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Bombardier Inc (BBDb.TO) is expected to price its new bond offering on Monday, a day ahead of initially planned, in a sign the Canadian plane and train maker is drawing strong interest for its US$900-million deal, one of the lead banks said.

The company said on Monday it is offering a seven-year bond, with two-thirds of the net proceeds going towards early retirement of notes with a coupon of 4.75 per cent maturing in 2019, as it taps debt markets for a second year.

Bombardier is now guiding investors toward a yield of 7.5 to 7.75 per cent on the new issuance, one of the lead banks said.

The remaining amount would give the company "financial flexibility," a Bombardier spokesman said by email on Monday, without elaborating. The spokesman was not immediately available to comment on the timing of the bond pricing.

The planned fund raising comes after Bombardier last month agreed to sell a majority stake in its CSeries jet program to European planemaker Airbus SE (EADSY.PK), which is expected to cut costs while bolstering the plane's sales and giving Bombardier a possible way out of a damaging trade dispute with Boeing Co (BA.N) and U.S. regulators.

As part of the deal, Bombardier has said it would invest US$300 million to set up an Alabama assembly line at an existing Airbus facility for CSeries purchased by American carriers.

The fund raising would "increase Bombardier's cash balances during a period of negative free cash flow," including about a negative US$1 billion in 2017 due to heavy investments in the CSeries which is ramping up production, along with slower than anticipated deliveries of the narrowbody jets, according to a note by Fitch Ratings.

Bombardier aims to be cash flow neutral by 2018 and to break even on the CSeries narrowbody jets in 2020.

It is the latest instance of Bombardier pushing out the company's debt maturities past 2020 to bolster liquidity, Jamie Koutsoukis, a senior analyst with Moody's investor service, said by phone from Toronto.

"This is something that they've done consistently," Koutsoukis added.

In November 2016, Bombardier raised US$1.4 billion by offering senior notes to refinance some of its debt.

Bombardier's existing 7.5 per cent bonds, which were issued in 2015, and mature in 2025, slipped around three quarters of a point to 100.85 on Monday to yield around 7.3 per cent, according to MarketAxess data.