An American Express Co. subsidiary announced a $1 billion issue Friday consisting of the first charge card-backed securities ever offered.
Jay Stevelman, senior vice president and treasurer at American Express Travel Related Services Co., said American Express wanted to diversify its funding sources and decided on an asset-backed deal about six months ago.
Mr. Stevelman said he was "ecstatic" about the two-part offering. Proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes, he noted.
The first part, American Express Master Trust 1992-1 consisted of $500 million of 6.05% Class A certificates due July 14, 1997. The securities were priced at 99.709 to yield 6.12% or 42 basis points over comparable Treasuries.
The second portion, American Express Master Trust 1992-2, consisted of $500 million of 6.60% Class A certificates, due July 15, 1999. They were priced at 99.62 to yield 6.67% or 45 basis points over comparable Treasuries, Lehman Brothers led the underwriting group.
Both Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's Corp. assigned triple-A ratings. Proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes, Mr. Stevelman said.
Receivables from a portfolio of designated American Express Card, American Express Gold Card, and Platinum Card accounts back the certificates, according to an American Express release
The certificates were offered globally with 20% of the five-year certificates and 15% of the seven-year paper sold in Europe and the Far East, a Lehman Brothers official said.
"I think the distributions is interesting in that we attracted a number of new asset-backed buyers." he said. The buyers included "a good mix of total return managers and insurance companies," the official said.
"A combination of credit quality and yield" attracted the buyers, he said.
Mr. Stevelman said that while American Express has no plans for another charge card-backed offering, that could change in light of the current deal's success.
According to Securities Data Co./ The Bond Buyer, 60 asset-backed deals totaling $22.2 billion have been done this year through last Thursday. Of those, eight were credit card deals totaling $4.6 billion. A Securities Data official said the firm had no figures for charge card-backed deals.
In other news, IBM Credit Corp. said it was "extremely disappointed by the Bankruptcy Court's decision to approve the leveraged buyout of Continental Airlines by Maxair." In a statement, IBM said it intended to appeal the court's July 22 decision.
"IBM Credit Corp. believes there is a substantial risk that the transaction will never close, since the numerous conditions to closing afford the Hurwitz Group broad discretion to withdraw from the transaction any time up until closing," IBM's statement says.
Scott Lamb, a spokesman for Maxxam Inc., of which Maxair is a newly formed subsidiary, said Friday: "We are confident the judge's order will be upheld and therefore that IBM's appeal will not affect our proceeding with the proposed transaction." Charles Hurwitz is chairman of Maxxam.
In secondary trading, high-grade bond prices rebounded from early morning lows to finish about 1/8 point lower. High-yield bonds ended unchanged in quiet trading.
High-yield deals on deck for next week include Rogers Cable Systems' $250 million offering, Unisys Corp.'s $250 million offering, and Bradlees' $100 million offering. Price talk on Bradlees' deal is 10 3/4% to 11%, a junk market source said.
Westdeutsche Landesbank issued $100 million of 3.55% deposit notes due 1993. The notes were priced initially at par to yield six basis points over the year Treasury bill. Moody's rates the offering Aa 1, while Standard & Poor's rates it AA-plus. Goldman, Sachs & Co. managed the offering. Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. issued $200 million of 6.460% notes due 1999 at par. Noncallable for two years, the notes were priced to yield 28 basis points over comparable Treasuries. Merrill Lynch & Co. lead managed the offering.
Moody's has rated Charter Medical Corp.'s new securities issued in exchange for the company's prepetition debt as part of the bankruptcy reorganization plan Charter completed July 21.
Moody's also withdrew its ratings on the company's pre-bankruptcy filing debt, a release from the rating agency says.
"The new ratings reflect Moody's assessment that Charter's ability to derive debt and capital expenditures may remain modest over the intermediate term," the Moody's release says. "Furthermore, negative trends in the psychiatric hospital industry could show earnings improvement."
Moody's assigned new ratings of B2 to Charter's senior secured notes due 1997 and B3 to its senior subordinated due 2003. It also raised Charter's Eurobonds due 2001 to B2 from Caa. In addition, the rating agency withdrew its ratings on the exchanged issues: Caa senior discount notes due 1998; Ca subordinated debt due 2000, 2002 and 2008; and "ca" preferred stock.
The restructuring cut Charter's debt by about $700 million and shaved total annual interest costs by close to $140 million.
Duff & Phelps Credit Rating Co. downgraded Cincinnati Bell Inc.'s $165 million of senior unsecured notes to A-plus from AA-minus. The rating agency said the AA-plus senior unsecured debt rating of wholly-owned subsidiary Cincinnati Bell Inc. is unaffected by the action.
"Duff & Phelps' rating action reflects lower-than-expected financial results in Cincinnati Bell's diversifield, non-regulated subsidiaries, principally CBIS, an information management subsidiary, and MATRIXX Marketing, a marketing services subsidiary," the agency said.
Moody's upgraded American Stores Co.'s senior debt to Baa3 from Bal and convertible subordinated debt to Bal from Ba3, a Moody's release says.
The agency also raised American Stores commercial paper rating to Prime-3 from Not Prime.
"These actions were prompted by significant reductions in debt levels due to divestitures of underperforming businesses, including the most recent sale of the company's Texas and Florida Jewel Osco stores," the release says.