(Bloomberg) -- Cisco Systems Inc. sold $13.5 billion of bonds in the US investment-grade debt market to partly finance its proposed $28 billion acquisition of Splunk Inc.

The sale is the latest sign that investors are willing to buy bonds that help fund acquisitions, a form of debt they largely avoided for much of the last year. Last week Bristol Myers Squibb sold $13 billion of bonds to help finance two of acquisitions, an offering that gathered orders exceeding $85 billion. 

Biotech giant AbbVie Inc., which agreed in November to buy ImmunoGen Inc. for a total equity value of $10.1 billion, is also looking at selling bonds. It asked a group of banks — including Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase & Co., BofA and Citigroup Inc.— to arrange a series of calls with fixed-income investors on Wednesday.

More such bond sales are likely coming. At least $314 billion of pending acquisitions could be financed in the debt market this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In the technology industry, Cisco’s bond deal may “open floodgates” for companies such as Broadcom Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. that are waiting to borrow for acquisitions, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Robert Schiffman wrote in a note Wednesday. 

“Demand for high-quality paper is high after two years of lower-than-historical issuance,” said Schiffman in an email.

Representatives for Broadcom, Microsoft and Hewlett Packard didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Companies are increasingly looking at borrowing as a way help boost returns for their shareholders, especially as bond yields have dropped since October. Last month, about a third of the S&P 500 companies that reported earnings ended up raising their dividends, according to credit strategists at JPMorgan. 

While it’s probably too soon to say definitively that companies have shifted in the direction of favoring shareholders, investors including DoubleLine Capital say it’s something that bondholders should watch for this year.

Read more: Stocks Win and Credit Loses as Companies Cater to Shareholders

Cisco sold the bonds on Wednesday in seven parts, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The longest portion, a 40-year security, yields 0.90 percentage point above Treasuries after initial talks in the area of 1.25 percentage point, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the details are private. 

Proceeds will be used for partially financing the Splunk deal, among other purposes, said the person. Bank of America Corp., Barclays Plc, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank AG, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo & Co. managed the bond sale, added the person.

A representative for Cisco didn’t respond to requests for comment. 

Cisco agreed in September to buy Splunk in a deal valued at about $28 billion, representing its biggest acquisition yet and a massive push into software and artificial intelligence-powered data analysis. Splunk is known for data observability services, which allow companies to monitor internal systems for network health, cybersecurity risks and other insights.

--With assistance from Brian Smith and Andrew Kostic.

(Updates with context throughout, adds pricing details in the first and eighth paragraphs.)

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