Roche floats record-setting $16B bond issue

For us pharma-watchers, today's news that Roche raised $16 billion from a bond sale means that it's that much closer to a takeover of Genentech. But to market-watchers, the debt sale is a sign that the corporate bond market is alive and well. And for recordbook-keepers, the Roche sale was the largest U.S. dollar-denominated corporate bond sale ever.

Fact is, Roche's decision to bypass banks in favor of the bond markets says a couple other things, too: That the Swiss pharma wasn't confident that the troubled banking system could come through to finance the $42 billion buyout--but it is confident of eventually sealing a deal with Genentech. Otherwise, why risk paying interest on billions in bonds?

It's the second big bond sale in pharma this month. You'll recall that Novartis sold $5 billion worth about a week ago, stocking the drugmaker's coffers for "financial flexibility."

- read the story in the Wall Street Journal