Demonstrating a business-as-usual approach amid the turmoil in its trading business, Bankers Trust New York Corp. has issued $150 million of seven-year noncallable notes.
The money-center bank's new notes were priced cheaply for an A-rated bank, at 99.789, to yield 8.165% - 112.5 basis points over seven-year Treasuries.
Analysts said these new notes, issued last Friday and snapped up by investors by the end of the day Monday, signal Bankers Trust's interest in maintaining normal business operations despite its recent woes. After a year in which its derivatives sales group became the target of suits by dissatisfied customers, the bank disclosed that it expects to lose $125 million in the first quarter, mostly on derivatives trading and exposure.
"They need to keep out in front of the market," said Thomas G. Stone, a vice president at Duff & Phelps Credit Rating Co.
The bank does not want to appear "too absent" from the market, said Mr. Stone. "They are still an A-plus-rated company," he added.
"I would worry a lot more if Bankers Trust was forced to stop accessing the market" than if they were successful at a higher price, said Tanya S. Azarchs, a director of financial institutions at Standard & Poor's Ratings Group.
In a sign that investors believe that the bank may have reached a nadir, the new notes sold in line with the spreads on Bankers Trust's outstanding subordinated debt.
Bankers Trust has been trading as if it were a mid- to high-BBB credit, said Ethan Heisler, a vice president at Salomon Brothers Inc.
The bank bond market has seen few new issues of late, particularly those priced more than 100 basis points over comparable Treasuries.
The bank said the new issue replaces Tier 2 capital that was lost on March 1, when investors converted $144 million of $150 million in convertible capital securities to cumulative preferred stock. The stock counts as Tier 1 capital.
The net effect of the new issue, which was underwritten by Smith Barney Inc., and the conversion is an increase of $144 million in Tier 1 capital, and a consistent level of Tier 2 capital.
Bankers Trust last accessed the capital markets on Aug. 15, 1994, with a $150 million adjustable preferred stock issue. The stock had an initial dividend yield of 6.42% and is callable after five years.
In other capital markets news, Standard & Poor's underscored the recent difficulty in the trading and investment banking business by revising its long-term outlook on six securities firms from "stable" to "negative." The firms are: Bear Stearns Cos., CS First Boston Group Inc., Goldman Sachs Group LP, Morgan Stanley Group Inc., PaineWebber Group Inc., and Salomon Inc.
An outlook change reflects a longer-term, usually about three-year, view on ratings.
"In a low-volume environment, it is harder to maintain the balance between cost structure and customer service," said Jake Newman, an analyst at Standard & Poor's.
"Turbulent conditions continue to plague the capital and currency markets," said Mr. Newman.
The outlook change reflected "a combination of a slump in core earnings and the vulnerability to negative surprises that results from increasingly turbulent market conditions," said Mark Bachmann, also of Standard & Poor's.