In an environment of low interest rates in Europe and elsewhere, corporates have been tapping the bond markets to raise money. Low yields are good for companies as they don’t have to pay as high a rate to investors. The European Central Bank (ECB) has been buying corporate bonds which have helped to take supply out of the market, creating a bigger appetite for investment grade debt.
Apple said that the debt could be used for a variety of purposes.
“We intend to use such net proceeds for general corporate purposes, including repurchases of our common stock and payment of dividends under our program to return capital to shareholders, funding for working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions and repayment of debt,” Apple said in its SEC filing.
“We may temporarily invest funds that are not immediately needed for these purposes in short-term investments, including cash, cash equivalents and/or marketable securities.”
Apple has been on an aggressive share buyback and shareholder return drive. Earlier this month, Apple raised its dividend payout to $13.22 billion annually, making it the biggest-paying dividend stock in the world.
Analysts said that the debt could help it fund this.
“It’s cheap debt so they can effectively take advantage of the bond markets when they have a strong capital position, strong balance sheet, and have become the biggest income player in the world with their dividend policy,” Neil Campling, head of technology, media, telecom research at Northern Trust Capital Markets, told CNBC by phone on Wednesday.
However, Apple now has a cash pile of $256.8 billion which makes the idea of raising debt sound odd. But an estimated 90 percent of this is sat offshore. Apple has been reluctant to bring this back to the U.S. because of the 35 percent tax rate it would have to pay. This is why the company has been tapping bond markets.
Last week Apple announced plans to issue $7 billion of new bonds in the U.S. According to FactSet, as of the end of the first quarter of 2017, Apple has taken on more than $98 billion in debt. Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said he would repatriate the cash if there was a lowering of the tax rate.