Freddie Mac has launched its program for offering global noncallable debt with a splash, bringing a record $5 billion of corporate bonds to market last week.
It was the biggest debt deal ever done in the federal agency market, according to Securities Data Co. Three-quarters of the deal was sold in the United States, with the remainder split between European and Asian investors.
With Treasuries in low supply, domestic and overseas investors have turned to noncallable debt in recent months in search of liquid investments. Traders on Wall Street said prices had softened for several weeks leading up to the issuance by Freddie Mac, the McLean, Va.-based housing finance agency.
"The wider spreads brought good investor demand. And as a result, the issue tightened after pricing," said Robert Lunder, senior managing director and head of the government agency desk at Bear, Stearns & Co.
"There was some very good follow-through buying in the secondary market, which helped cause the issue to tighten by about 1 basis point," said Edward I. O'Brien Jr., senior vice president and manager of federal agency trading at Prudential Securities.
Investors increasingly prefer "bigger, more liquid deals," said Mr. Lunder. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have responded by making fewer but larger deals.
Victoria Whitenton, Freddie Mac's vice president and treasurer, said the agency's noncallable debt offered strong credit quality and liquidity, qualities that were attractive to institutional investors. A number of new investors to Freddie Mac securities and to this type of security participated in the deal, she said.
Freddie Mac will issue additional notes in the third and fourth quarters this year and will be considering five-year or 10-year issues, she said.
In 1998 Fannie Mae has brought four $4 billion deals to market to build a yield curve that included a five-year issue in January, a 10-year issue in February, a three-year issue in March, and another five-year issue in April.
"The spread-widening has not been out of line. They've been fairly liquid, and I've seen good volume in all the issues," said Andrew McCormick, vice president and assistant treasurer at Fannie Mae. The 10- year issue widened as the Freddie Mac issue came to market, he said, most likely because the big supply caused some investors to engage in short- selling to hedge.