European companies on track for record debt issuance – Fitch

European non-financial companies are on track for another record year of bond issuance despite political worries at the start of the year, according to ratings agency Fitch, as the ECB’s corporate bond-buying programme drives down borrowing costs.

Total first quarter bond issuance by companies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa was up 27 per cent year on year, which Fitch said “suggests full-year volume is on course to exceed last year’s record €478bn”.

M&A activity led Fitch to downgrade more companies than it upgraded in the period, but the European Central Bank’s bond-buying programme helped the wider credit market to rally despite the more negative outlook.

The ECB expanded its quantitative easing programme to include corporate bonds last June, and the central bank is currently buying corporate bonds at an average monthly rate of €7.5bn, with more than half…

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