December 14, 2016 / 5:27 PM / 8 months ago

Capital hungry UniCredit makes quick dash to AT1 market

LONDON, Dec 14 (IFR) - UniCredit sold a 500m Additional Tier 1 bond to a select group of investors on Wednesday, surprising the market just a day after it unveiled a 13bn rights issue to plug a 12.2bn hole primarily created by bad loan provisions.

The new trade came at par with a 9.25% coupon, much higher than UniCredit's previous AT1s. But this offered only a 25-35bp new issue premium to where its 1bn 6.75% perpetual non-call 2021 was trading, a modest discount given the privately placed deal's lack of an offering memorandum and the fast approaching year-end.

This outstanding AT has rallied sharply in recent days, moving from an 89.7 cash price on Monday to 93.056 according to Tradeweb.

UniCredit's AT1 paper, the riskiest form of bank debt, has been among the worst performing in 2016 due to investor anxiety about its capital levels and ability to pay coupons.

Buyers of the new bond are taking a gamble that the cash call will be successful and resolve these issues, otherwise they could be left stuck with paper that does not pay any interest.

The largest capital raise ever carried out by an Italian lender is part of a broader plan, which will see the bank gradually move 17.7bn of non-performing loans into two securitisation vehicles set up by fund managers Fortress and Pimco. UniCredit will retain a minority interest in both entities.

Jean Pierre Mustier, UniCredit's CEO, said the deal, called Project Fino, would contribute to an 8.1bn provision the bank is taking to reduce its non-performing loan book.

UniCredit is having to write off 300bp of common equity Tier 1 as a result of the NPLs provisions and the transaction will help plug some of the capital gap created by the provisioning.

UBS and UniCredit were joint-bookrunners on the 9.25% perpetual non-call June 2022 deal which is expected to be rated BB- by Fitch. (Reporting by Helene Durand, editing by Alex Chambers and Robert Smith)

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