IBM plans to redeem $1.45 billion of its outstanding debt because of low interest rates, a spokesman for the company said yesterday.

International Business Machines Corp. plans to call all $1.2 billion of its outstanding 7 7/8% convertible subordinated debentures due November 2004 and all $250 million of its outstanding World Trade Corp. 10 1/4% notes due November 1995, according to an IBM release.

The company will redeem the 7 7/8% debentures at 101.575% of the principal amount plus accrued interest on Nov. 21 and 10 1/4% notes at 101% plus accrued interest on Nov. 14, the release says.

IBM spokesman Rob Wilson said the company has not decided yet whether it will finance the redemption through its available cash or through a refinancing, which could include a new issue.

Elsewhere, low interest rates also prompted James River Corp.'s tender offer for all $250 million of its outstanding 10 3/4% debentures due Oct. 1, 2018, a company spokeswoman said yesterday.

The Richmond, Va.-based company is offering to purchase the debentures at a redemption price of $1,093.75 per $1,000 principal amount, plus accrued interest up to but not including payment date for the debentures.

The offer hinges on at least $125 million principal amount of those debentures being tendered, she said. It expires at 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Sept. 29, unless James River decides to extend it. Merrill Lynch & Co. will serve as exclusive dealer manager for the purchase.

Once the offer is complete, the company plans to redeem the remaining debentures pursuant to the indenture under which they were issued. The redemption price will be $1,086.00 per $1,000 principal amount, plus accrued interest for the 12-month period starting Oct. 1, 1992.

"Getting them in earlier is just a little bit better for us," the spokeswoman said.

The holders get more money for their debentures through the tender offer, and that process is easier for the company than calling the bonds, she said.

Asked how James River planned to fund the offer, the spokeswoman said the company is currently "in the market with" a $200 million preferred stock offering and has "plenty of room" in its revolving credit line.

The company's product lines include brand names such as Northern bathroom tissue, Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups and plates, Eureka! recycled copy paper, Quilt-Rap sandwich rap, and Qwik Crisp microwave packaging, James River had $4.6 billion in sales for the year ended Dec. 29.

In secondary trading yesterday, the high-yield market ended a sleepy session unchanged to down 1/8, with R.H. Macy & Co. bonds among those showing weakness, traders said.

"Today's been terrible," one trader said, nothing that by late afternoon he had seen only four trades, with four of those being "gogos," or better quality issues.

High-grade issues were also "extremely, extremely quiet," finishing unchanged to slightly lower, one trader said. Following France's approval of the Maastricht treaty, "I would have expected a little more volume," one trader said.

New Issues

American Re Corp. issued $450 million of 10.875% senior subordinated debentures due 2004 at par. The debentures are callable after five years at 104.75, moving to par in 1999. A 25% per year sinking fund begins in 1999. Moody's Investors Service rates the offering B1, while Standard & Poor's Corp. rates it B-plus. Merrill Lynch managed the offering.

Commonwealth Edison Co. issued a two-part first mortgage bond offering totaling $400 million.

The first tranche consisted of $200 million of 7.375% bonds due 2002. The noncallable bonds were priced at 99.585 to yield 7.434%, or 100 basis points over comparable Treasuries.

The second piece consisted of $200 million of 8.375% bonds due 2022. Noncallable for 10 years, the bonds were priced at 98.474 to yield 8.516%, or 115 basis points over comparable Treasuries. Moody's rates the offering Baal, while Standard & Poor's rates it BBB-plus.

PaineWebber Inc. lead managed the offering with Merrill Lynch and Salomon Brothers Inc. as co-managers.

Maxus Energy Corp. issued $250 million of 9.875% notes due 2002. Noncallable for seven years, the notes were priced at 99.77 to yield 9.91%, or 250 basis points over comparable Treasuries. Moody's rates the offering Ba3, while Standard & Poor's rates it BB. First Boston Corp. lead managed the offering.

Yesterday's Ratings

Standard & Poor's has given an A rating to Paramount Communications Inc.'s $500 million senior debt Rule 415 shelf registration. The agency also affirmed Paramount's A senior debt, A-minus subordinated debt, and A-1 commercial paper. The actions affect about $600 million of senior and $175 million of subordinated debt according to a Standard & Poor's release.

"Concurrently, the ratings outlook is revised to ~stable' from ~negative' based on improvement in profitability for the nine months ended July 31," the agency said. "Earnings gains were posted in the feature film, college publishing, and consumer publishing segments, although continuing sluggishness in school funding has restrained earnings improvement in school publishing."

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