Just about anything Rupert Murdoch does these days is seen through the lens of his aborted recent effort to buy Time Warner. But 21st Century Fox is borrowing $1.2B for a much more mundane reason: to take advantage of today’s low interest rates and repurchase some debt that’s coming due, including $750M in senior notes that pay 5.3% in interest. By contrast, today Fox is offering 3.7% in interest for $600M in senior notes due in 2014 and 4.75% for an additional $600M in senior notes due in 2044. The deals are expected to close September 15.
Moody’s Investors Service rated the debt Baa1 — meaning it has some risk but is safe enough for pensions and other funds that can only buy investment-grade notes. Fox’s exposure to “cyclical advertising spending” as well as the “lack of visibility and volatility in the filmed entertainment business, continue to weigh moderately on the company’s credit profile.” The rating assumes that Fox will limit itself to “moderately sized tuck-in acquisitions and shareholder distributions” and maintain its current credit ratings were “key factors in our assessment of the company’s financial risk profile.”