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Foreign issuers prove a strong draw in Japan

Despite the dire state of the Japanese economy, yen-denominated issues have maintained their popularity, providing borrowers useful diversity and a domestic investor base hungry for yield.

Stefano Ghersi

In Japan the economy continues to sink towards recession, banks struggle under the weight of bad debts and companies edge towards painful restructuring. Yet the primary market for yen-denominated bonds, both samurai and Euroyen, is still in rude health. International issuers, corporates and governments, are turning to these markets as an important source of funds, attracted by ultra-low interest rates, strong demand from retail buyers in Japan, and the low risk of the yen strengthening against major currencies.

Although the size of issues reflects a general trend in the international bond markets for smaller deals, the yen market is still capable of making headlines. This year saw the largest-ever yen issue from a non-Japanese corporate - a ¥325 billion ($2.7 billion) two-tranche issue from France Telecom. The joint-largest single-tranche sovereign samurai issue also appeared - a ¥200 billion deal for the Federative Republic of Brazil.

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