(Bloomberg) -- This year’s bond-sale boom in emerging markets expanded to high-yield borrowers Tuesday, with Ivory Coast tapping the market for $2.6 billion, the first time a sub-Saharan African country has sold hard currency debt since April 2022.
The world’s largest cocoa producer sold $1.1 billion via a sustainable bond maturing in 2033 and $1.5 billion in conventional bonds due 2037, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not be identified because they’re not authorized to speak about it.
The sustainable debt was issued to yield 7.875%, compared with an initial price guidance of 8.375%. The conventional notes priced at 8.5%, lower than the initial target of 8.875%.
With the Federal Reserve expected to cut interest rates in 2024, the year has begun with a flurry of new issues, driven by investors keen to lock in current yields. Activity was initially confined to investment-grade borrowers who have totted up $68.5 billion of deals so far. Ivory Coast’s offering suggests the rush is now spilling over to junk-rated borrowers that might help Africa, which had been locked out of markets by debt distress and tightening monetary conditions.
The nation was getting a “fair deal,” but other issuers from the region may not witness the same reception, said Maciej Woznica, a fixed-income money manager at Coeli Frontier Markets AB. “They are the obvious and strongest issuer in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
Yields on Ivory Coast’s dollar bonds due in July 2024 fell 74 basis points by 6:04 p.m. in London to trade at 7.69%.
Ivory Coast is rated Ba3, with a positive outlook by Moody’s, and BB- with stable outlook by both S&P and Fitch.
(Recasts with amount raised in first paragraph.)
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