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Apple's $17 billion bond deal is the largest in history

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple made the largest corporate-bond deal in history on Tuesday, when it raised US$17 billion in bonds -- the first time the company has offered bonds in 20 years.

In response, The New York Times asks, why would cash-rich Apple do this in the first place? Analysts tell the NYT that the debt actually can boost returns to shareholders, something Apple has already taken steps to do when it announced its dividend and share-repurchase program last week and in March 2012. In the process, Apple was using historically low rates to its advantage. The company can step around the taxes it would need to pay by repatriating some of its overseas cash stockpile, buying the company more time to lobby Congress to its advantage.

We reported shortly before the deal took place that Apple was filing the required SEC paperwork. The company plans to return $100 billion to stockholders by the end of 2015. Its next dividend payout is May 16.

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