Apple sets record with £10.9bn bond issue

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Apple will set a new record for the largest corporate bond issue when it sells $17 billion (£10.9bn)-worth of paper today.

The bonds are the first to be issued by the technology giant since the 1990s. The company is raising the money to give to shareholders through dividend payments and stock buybacks.

Apple has $145bn in cash, more than enough for the $100bn cash return programme it announced last week.

However, most of its money sits in overseas accounts and the company does not plan to bring it to the United States until the federal corporate tax rate is lowered.

The bonds come in three to 30-year maturities, according to a preliminary prospectus filed by the company.

Ratings agencies Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s last week rated Apple at one rung below their highest rating for issuers.

Moody’s said only four non-financial companies have the highest rating, and Apple does not deserve it because it could adopt an even more shareholder-friendly policy, and its policy of not repatriating cash could force it to borrow more.

Research firm Dealogic said the largest previous corporate bond deal was a $16.5bn issue by Swiss drug company Roche Holdings in 2009.