Latin American borrowers are lining up to sell as much as $4 billion in bonds, taking advantage of a rebound in Brazil that helped push bond prices to their highest level since Russia's default in August.
Rising confidence in Latin American economies has helped Brazil return to the international bond markets two months after its currency devaluation rattled investors, who were still smarting from Russia's domestic debt default and devaluation. That could open the door for many cash-strapped borrowers.
Buyers are attracted by yields of up to triple those of Treasuries- Venezuela's 2027 bond yields 16.1%-as concerns ebb that Brazil will default on its mounting debt. Those fears deterred investors in recent months. To boost demand, though, sellers are offering incentives, such as backing interest payments with future revenue or offering warrants to buy additional securities.
"There is a nice opening for a moderate amount of debt," said William Nemerever, who manages $1 billion of emerging-market debt at Boston-based Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo Co. "That means sovereigns and top-of-the-line blue-chips."
On Friday, Banco Bradesco SA, Brazil's largest private bank, sold $200 million in Eurobonds, increasing the planned issue by $50 million, in the first international corporate bond sale since the devaluation.
After $1.5 billion of sales by Mexico and Panama yesterday, Chile and Peru also are considering tapping markets. Venezuela says it is considering offers from 35 banks to help it raise $3 billion on international markets.
A J.P. Morgan index of Latin corporate and sovereign Eurobonds rose yesterday to 191, its highest level since Aug. 7, days before the Russian debacle. It has risen 15% since Brazil's currency devaluation Jan. 13.
The rebound has picked up steam as Brazil's currency gained 15% this month, interest rates fell, and money-center banks gave a vote of confidence to the new central banker, Arminio Fraga, the former fund manager for George Soros.
The yield on Mexico's 2008 Eurobond stumbled to 9.44%, from 10.28% the previous week. The 4.24 percentage-point spread to comparable Treasuries was half its August peak of 8.39. Still, the government paid a spread of 4.49 percentage points to sell the bonds yesterday.
Granted, trading in emerging markets' bonds remains at a fraction of its level before Russia devalued.
''Trading volumes across the market have since gone down threefold and fourfold," said Peter Sweatman, a vice president for capital markets at J.P. Morgan.
Though the bonds' rally has cut borrowing costs, a new supply of debt could snuff out the rally. Buyers remain focused on the lowest-risk borrowers and securities that are easiest to trade. This year about $7 billion of Latin American international bonds have been sold, compared with almost $9 billion in the same period last year.
Bradesco's Eurobonds were sold to yield 11.87%, a spread of 7.18 percentage points. Banco Itau SA and the Brazil units of Citigroup Inc. and ABN Amro also are considering sales of bonds and commercial paper abroad.
Brazil is the biggest economy in the region, and its return to the markets could reopen the door for many. Brazil is considering selling $1 billion of bonds in the coming weeks, though yields remain at spreads officials there consider exorbitant, bankers say.
The 14.3% yield on Brazil's bond maturing in 2008 is 9.10 percentage points wider than that of Treasuries-more than double that of Mexico.
"A lot of the pipeline issuers are waiting for quality of issuance, which will likely follow Brazil's reintroduction," said Keith Schneider, head of ABN Amro's Latin American debt capital unit.
Mr. Schneider has clients planning to sell about $750 million of bonds. Even with Brazil not yet in the market, Latin American bonds are getting sold. Last week Chilean Coca-Cola bottler Arica Embotelladora Arica SA capitalized on higher demand, selling $150 million of seven-year bonds through J.P. Morgan.