Allianz eyes Deutsche Bank bond buyback funding
2002-12-10 09:28:51 EST
By Mark Thompson
FRANKFURT, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Allianz AG is considering ways to refinance a one billion euro bond that matures in early 2003, including a possible sale of Deutsche Bank shares, financial industry sources said on Tuesday.
The bond, exchangeable for shares in Deutsche Bank AG , was issued in 1998 by Allianz as a way of raising funds and disposing of a large chunk of the insurer's stake in Germany's biggest bank without paying capital gains tax.
But Deutsche's shares have fallen sharply since then and are now trading around 47 euros, some 35 percent below the conversion price of 71.85 euros.
That means bondholders are highly unlikely to take the shares, opting rather to receive the full face value of the bond plus interest. Holders of the bond, which matures on February 4, have the right to convert until January 1.
"Allianz will have to find one billion euros to pay the bondholders -- they may do a Deutsche Bank placement to finance that or issue a new exchangeable," said one banking source.
Allianz owns some 4.5 percent of the bank, equivalent to almost 28 million shares. It would have to sell some 21 million shares at current prices to raise one billion euros but the proceeds would be tax-free after a change in the law this year.
"A Deutsche placement would be something they would like to do but nothing is imminent," said a London-based fund manager. "They want to raise capital but are very keen to avoid giving the impression they have to."
Allianz officials declined to comment.
Sources close to Allianz said it had a range of options and that recent capital raising measures had relieved some of the pressure on its finances, undermined this year by losses at Dresdner Bank and a slump in value of its huge equity portfolio.
"They are clearly thinking very hard about how to refinance that (bond), but I would be surprised if they rush into anything," said one.
"The talk is clearly out there and Deutsche Bank stock is likely to suffer from it over the next few weeks but I don't see (Allianz) doing a placement below 50 euros."
Since posting a third quarter loss of 2.5 billion euros last month, Europe's biggest insurer has tapped the bond market for 3.5 billion euros to strengthen its capital base and hopes to raise 700 million by converting some hybrid debt into equity.
Industry experts say the group has not yet decided how to raise the funds it would need to redeem the Deutsche Bank bond -- one of four outstanding exchangeables worth some six billion euros -- but that it has no shortage of assets it could sell.
Bankers say it could cash in its 9.9 percent stake in Credit Lyonnais -- which has gained some 36 percent since rival BNP Paribas began building a stake in late November and is now worth about 1.9 billion euros.
Analysts at Fox-Pitt, Kelton included Allianz's Global Risks and U.S. non-life businesses, worth some five billion euros, in a list of potential European insurance assets for sale published in a research note on Tuesday.
A sustained recovery in earnings may also allow Allianz to fund the bond redemption from cashflow, traditionally strong in the first quarter of the year due to the receipt of annual insurance premiums from large corporate clients, experts say.
Allianz no comment on refinancing 1 billion euro Deutsche Bank convertible bond
Allianz AG declined to comment on whether and how it plans to refinance a 1 billion euro convertible bond exchangeable into Deutsche Bank AG shares which matures on Feb 4 2003.
An earlier news agency report suggested that because Deutsche Bank shares are now trading some 35% below the 71.85 euro conversion price, bondholders are highly unlikely to take the shares, opting instead to receive the full face value of the bond plus interest.
The report said that as a result Allianz was considering various measures, including selling some of its Deutsche Bank shares, in order to raise the cash necessary to pay the bondholders. An Allianz spokesman declined to comment on this.
Sources close to the insurer said, however, that Allianz has a range of options and that the recent tapping of the bond market for 3.5 billion has relieved some pressure on its finances.
The spokesman said that the bond is one of four convertibles totalling 5.7 billion euro.
A 1 billion euro bond convertible into RWE AG shares matures in 2006, a 1.7 billion one convertible into Siemens AG shares matures in 2005, while a third instrument convertible into either E.ON AG, BASF AG, or Muenchener Rueckversicherung AG shares matures in 2004, and has a volume of 2 billion euro, the spokesman said.
© AFX News
Story filed: 18:14 Tuesday 10th December 2002