Any worries that Bombardier Inc. would struggle to sell $750-million of new shares were quickly dispelled Thursday afternoon.
Exactly one week after the Quebec-based giant announced a dramatic shakeup that involved naming a new chief executive, Bombardier tapped the market for fresh funds. Heading into the deal there were concerns that investors might be spooked because management had also recently halted the dividend and suggested they might sell assets to raise cash, but almost immediately after the offering launched it was clear that sales were going well, according to two people familiar with the transaction.
Within a few hours the order book was roughly double the size of the deal. Investor demand was also particularly strong south of the border, with U.S. orders accounting for almost 40 per cent of the book.
Technically Bombardier does not have the authority to issue new stock at this time, because it is bound by a rule that constrains its total number of shares outstanding. However, last week the company announced plans to raise equity in the near future, and at the same time it set up a shareholder meeting in March, during which it expects to get the approvals it needs to issue the shares.
Because that meeting is a month away, Bombardier had to issue subscription receipts for the time being. Sub receipts, as they are known, are typically used to help finance acquisitions. For instance, if a corporate buyer needs to finance part of its deal by raising equity, it will sometimes issue sub receipts that convert to common shares if the deal goes through. In Bombardier's case, there is no purchase, but the sub receipts will convert to common shares if the shareholder approvals are granted in March.
With the transportation company's future in question, some people believed that a major institutional investor or two may need to show their support for the deal in order to give others enough confidence to buy in. But in the end Bombardier launched the deal without any major names already on board and it still sold well. The only pre-announced buyers were members of the Bombardier family, who pledged to buy $50-million (U.S.) worth of shares – a move that was widely expected.
National Bank Financial, UBS Securities Canada, CIBC World Markets and Citigroup Global Markets Canada, all of whom lend to Bombardier, co-led the bought deal.