Specialty finance company Associates First Capital Corp. issued a $4.8 billion bond offering last week, the second-largest ever. The company's deal was oversubscribed, which is unusual, given the market's recent wariness of specialty finance paper.

"Frankly, we're amazed that a company whose ratings are under review could issue any kind of debt," Carol Levenson wrote in Gimme Credit, a Chicago investment newsletter. "It says something about the company's ready access to capital markets, even during stressful times," the newsletter said.

Associates had to boost the size of its deal twice to satisfy investor demand, according to wire reports. It sold $2.3 billion of five-year debt at a spread of 142 basis points over U.S. Treasuries, $1.5 billion of 10- year debt at a spread of 168 basis points, and $1 billion of 20-year debt at a spread of 180 basis points, dealers said.

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