MicroStrategy Is Selling Corporate Bonds to Buy Bitcoin
MicroStrategy Inc. is borrowing $400 million to buy more Bitcoin while also writing down the value of its existing holdings. It’s the first-ever junk bond sale used for financing purchases of the volatile cryptocurrency.
The Tysons Corner, Virginia-based enterprise software company said in a filing Monday that the senior secured notes will be available to qualified institutional buyers. The private placement is $23 million higher than the company’s entire operating cash flow since 2016, according to Bloomberg data. MicroStrategy, in a separate filing, said that it’s taking a roughly $284.5 million charge during its next earnings report thanks to losses related to fluctuations in the price of the digital asset. That amounts to more than its cumulative earnings since 2011.
MicroStrategy has, with Michael Saylor at its helm, emerged as one of the most bullish public companies on cryptocurrencies. It has already issued convertible bonds worth around $1 billion in its quest to scoop up more of the coins, though this is the first-ever corporate bond sale with proceeds earmarked for such purchases. Saylor’s focus on Bitcoin, including making it an official corporate strategy, has drawn the ire of critics.
“The $400 million in debt isn’t being used to fund an acquisition or growth. It’s being used to speculate on a volatile asset,” said Marc Lichtenfeld, chief income strategist at the Oxford Club. “Does MicroStrategy even have a business anymore or is it simply a proxy for Bitcoin -- with borrowed money?”
Accounting rules likely forced the firm to write down Bitcoin once the market value dipped below the price at which it acquired the coin. That means any Bitcoin bought this year could be written down when the cryptocurrency touched $30,000 briefly last month, unless some of the purchases took place during the handful of days when it traded below that point at the start of the year.
Prior to today’s impairments announcement, MicroStrategy had already taken about $265 million in charges. That brings the total amount of impairments to more than $500 million, according to its filings and data compiled by Bloomberg.
The firm is marketing the offering through Tuesday, and pricing is expected thereafter, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The notes will mature in seven years and can’t be bought back for three. Jefferies Financial Group Inc. is the sole bookrunner on the deal, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the details are private.
MicroStrategy is in early pricing discussions with investors for a yield between 6.25% and 6.5% on its debut junk-bond sale, according to separate people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the transaction is private.r. By comparison, the average junk bond yields 4.01%, according to Bloomberg Barclays index data.