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Rakuten's Bold $2 Billion Junk Bond Offering Sparks Investor Frenzy


Robert Tavares

April 4, 2024 - 03:16 am


Rakuten Group Seizes Elevated Interest with $2 Billion High-Yield Bond Sale

In an unprecedented financial endeavor, Rakuten Group Inc., the Japanese e-commerce giant, has successfully raised the stakes in a high-yield junk bond sale, totalling a staggering $2 billion. This strategic move has garnered significant interest from investors due to the proposition of yields notably higher than the market average for debts of a similar rating.

Rakuten's high-yield bond offering attracts investors

Substantial Yield as a Magnet

The yield on the five-year notes has been fixed at a substantial 9.875%, a lucrative offering that stands roughly three percentage points higher than that of comparable bonds. Market analysts are interpreting this as a bold strategy to entice investment in the face of the company's pressing debt profile.

Market Reaction to Increased Sale

In the aftermath of this upscaled sale, which saw a notable increase from the initial target of $1.25 billion, the cost of insuring Rakuten’s obligations against default showed a decline. Concurrently, the company’s stock price experienced a boost. This positive response from the market highlights the investor confidence in Rakuten's fiscal stability despite its substantial debt.

Rakuten's Indebted Strategies

This venture into the US high-yield market is Rakuten’s second within the year, illustrative of the determined approach the company is taking to navigate the thickening fog of debt repayments due over the upcoming 24 months. The conglomerate's recent announcement regarding a potential consolidation of its financial sectors has sparked optimism among shareholders. Speculations suggest that such a reorganization could enhance internal synergies and inflate overall company value.

Laden with successive fiscal losses over five years, in large part due to an untimely expansion into mobile services, the company finds itself in a tight corner financially. These compounded losses however have not deterred Rakuten's ambition or strategy as it continues to explore financial avenues to bolster its balance sheets.

Expert Insight on Rakuten’s Move

Taketoshi Tsuchiya, the Chief Executive Officer of Tsuchiya Asset Management Co., offered his perspective on Rakuten's maneuver. "It’s an expensive deal, so it will be bad for Rakuten’s profit-and-loss statement, but it shows that its credit risk is calming down, and that’s a good thing," he remarked, pointing towards a duality in Rakuten's current financial strategy.

Despite the potential impact on the bottom line, this debt instrument signals stabilizing confidence in Rakuten's creditworthiness, providing a counterweight to the high cost of capital.

A Reserve Strategy for the Redemption

Regarding the intricate details and the precise application of the revenues garnered from this bond issue, representatives from Rakuten, based in Tokyo, have been reserved. Nonetheless, insider sources allude to the proceeds being directed towards the redemption or repurchase of outstanding senior notes that are reaching their maturity in 2024 or subsequently. Considering Rakuten's forthcoming obligations, which include bonds worth approximately $4.6 billion maturing by June 2025, the strategy appears to be focused on preemptive debt management.

Observational Market Data

Traders observed a significant tightening in credit-default swaps on Rakuten's bonds, which narrowed by about 42 basis points to approximately 388 basis points on a particular Thursday morning. This sizable contraction marks the most substantial daily reduction since mid-February, as CMA data highlights.

Shareholders also saw a contributory upturn, with Rakuten's shares experiencing a 0.4% rise, which build upon an impressive annual increase totaling 37%. This performance significantly outpaces the broader Topix index, showcasing the company's outlying market resilience.

Investor Incentives and Comparisons

Looking more closely at the incentives provided to potential investors, it's clear that Tatuten's bond offering came with an appealing promise: a yield considerably above the norm for "BB" rated notes. Typically, the average yield-to-worst for bonds rated at this level lingers around 6.63%, as per the data Bloomberg collected, underscoring the competitive nature of Rakuten's high yield proposition.

Indeed, even when juxtaposed with Rakuten's own historic offering—where the company issued notes at a record 12.125% in January to sell $1.8 billion of bonds—the latest offering displays a trimmed yield. Nonetheless, this still remains an attractive proposition for high-yield investors in the market.

Acknowledgments and Reporting Sources

This insightful consideration of Rakuten’s financial positioning and strategic decisions comes with thanks to contributions from Gowri Gurumurthy. It reflects on the current fiscal dynamics at play within the high-yield investment sphere and within Rakuten as a corporation wrestling with considerable debt challenges.

Bloomberg L.P. has relayed this detailed account of Rakuten’s latest maneuver in the financial markets, amplifying awareness and understanding of strategic corporate financing in challenging economic environments.


Rakuten Group’s bold move to increase their junk bond sale to $2 billion has clearly struck a chord with investors, winning their confidence through the offer of high yields compared to the market. As Rakuten continues to negotiate its hefty debt obligation, these financial excursions are watched keenly by market analysts and investors alike. The company has shown both a commitment to restructuring and a willingness to pursue aggressive strategies to ensure its financial sustainability and future growth.

This large-scale junk bond issue stands as a testament to Rakuten's fiscal resilience and strategic acumen, as they hedge against continued market volatility and navigate through their substantial debt contingencies. The increased bond sale not only reflects Rakuten's urgent needs but also an overarching confidence, both within the company and among its financial supporters, in the viability of its long-term plans.

As the financial landscape continues to transform with various economic pressures, Rakuten's financial strategies will likely remain a pivotal topic of discussion. The company's ability to attract significant investment through high-yield bonds underscores an often underappreciated agility within the credit markets. It reflects the intricacy of investment decisions where risk and reward are perpetually weighed against each other.

Ultimately, this substantial fiscal initiative by Rakuten serves as an example of how companies can harness financial instruments to manage debt, balance risk, and propel forward amid challenging economic tides. Whether this bet pays off in terms of long-term profitability and financial health remains to be seen, but the current signs of investor faith and market performance suggest a positive trajectory for the embattled Japanese conglomerate.

With acknowledgments to Bloomberg for their comprehensive insights and data on this financial event, they remain a valuable source for up-to-date information on market trends and business developments.