As companies branch out beyond traditional funding sources, many are considering tapping the unrated bond market. Investors are snapping up deals – enjoying the higher returns from unrated bonds—and companies are starting to recognize that demand. While they may have to pay a premium to make up for the lack of a rating, and the disclosures that go with it, the development could augur less reliance on rating agencies, whose value has been called into question.
A number of deals have gone forward in both the US and in Europe—although more in Europe, which traditionally has a larger unrated market. For example, UK rail company National Express launched a $570 million, 7-year deal in January, which came in with a coupon of 6.25 percent.