Tesla Raising Over $500M With Debt Backed By Vehicle Leases

The electric car maker recently started marketing $546 million of bonds backed by leases of its Model S and Model X vehicles. People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that some of Tesla’s new asset-backed securities (ABS), issued to help finance the company’s expensive expansion plans and production of its first mass-market auto, the Model 3, are already 14 times oversubscribed. They are due to go on sale on Thursday.
Immense early demand for the bonds has enabled Tesla to reduce the amount it rewards investors for lending it money. According to Bloomberg’s sources, the Palo Alto, California-based company initially promised to pay as much as 2.9 percentage points over benchmarks on lower-rated portions of the debt. Later on, when Tesla realized that investors were clamoring to subscribe to its first auto ABS, it was able to cut that margin to 2.65 percentage points.
“It’s got the Elon Musk magic to it,” John Kerschner, head of securitized products at Janus Henderson Investors, told Bloomberg. “It just makes for an easier sale.”
Interest in Tesla’s auto ABS will come as welcome news to the company. Barclays analyst Brian Johnson reckons Tesla could burn through $4.2 billion this year as it ramps up production of its Model 3 car, making new funding crucial to keep the company afloat. (See also: Tesla Model 3 Production Estimate Slashed 75% at Cowen.)
In previous years, Tesla looked to equity, convertible bond and junk-debtmarkets to raise capital. Results have so far been mixed.
In August, the company’s junk-bonds plunged below their selling price, amid concerns about Tesla’s cash flow. In contrast, the electric car maker’s convertible notes have reportedly been popular with investors.
According to Bloomberg, Tesla is now keen to become a regular issuer of auto ABS. Bond investors have been forced to look further afield as fixed incomeyields shrink, with demand for debt backed by consumer payments such as auto leases proving to be a particularly popular alternative.

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