DealZone

UPDATE-BA’s convertible bond flies off the shelves

*This post was updated after the bond priced*

British Airways unveiled a $1 billion fundraising aimed at securing its future earlier on Friday, including $540 million in bank loans that had been earmarked for its pension funds as a safety net against the airline going bust.

The fundraising also included a 350 million pound ($570.5 million) convertible bond, which was over 7 times covered, pointing to healthy investor appetite.

Convertible bonds have become an increasingly important source of finance for firms in Europe. The instrument allows companies to raise capital paying less interest than standard bonds, while avoiding an immediate dilution of earnings per share because investors look to gains in share prices over a medium term.

With European stocks rallying some 33 percent since early March, the convertible market has rebounded with year-to-date issuance reaching $16 billion including the BA deal, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The convertible was the third UK deal this year and BA’s first in 20 years. It was arranged by Barclays Capital, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Merrill Lynch and RBS Hoare Govett.

Deals du Jour

Virgin Group is keen on buying long-running takeover targets Northern Rock and bmi and is open to discussions on both, its flamboyant president Richard Branson tells Reuters.

Branson said Virgin Money was open to a deal for nationalised bank Northern Rock, despite being rebuffed last year, and he also expects to have talks with German carrier Lufthansa over its British airline bmi.

For the main Reuters Deals news, click here. And in the newspapers on Tuesday:

Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin is seeking control of metals giant Norilsk Nickel as he wants to buy 25 percent in it from tycoon Oleg Deripaska’s UC RUSAL, Vedomosti business daily reported. Click here for the Reuters story.

European airlines merging, U.S. talks to take off next?

airfrance-alitaliaEuropean airline mergers, long expected, are now taking wing.

Air France-KLM in January bought a 25-percent stake in Alitalia after a failed attempt at buying the entire carrier last year. The airline fought it out with Lufthansa, which lost the battle but didn’t sit around moping. It quickly launched Lufthansa Italia, which took its maiden flight a few days ago.

Ryanair, Europe’s largest discount airline, has withdrawn its bid for Aer Lingus after the irish government rejected the $1 billion deal. Ryanair is now expected to look for alternative targets.

British Airways remains in merger talks with Spain’s Iberia. Those talks have become complicated by the pound’s recent slide against the euro, making Iberia’s market capitalization now higher than BA’s.