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Netflix Plans to Raise $2 Billion More Through Bonds, Bringing Debt Load to Over $12 Billion

Netflix is going back to the debt markets to fuel more content spending, announcing plans to issue $2 billion in unsecured bonds.

The proposed offering would be the seventh time in four years that Netflix is raising $1 billion or more through debt, and would bring its long-term debt to around $12.3 billion if the transaction is completed.

Netflix, in a statement Tuesday, said the $2 billion aggregate notes will be issued in two series, indicating the principal amount will be in both U.S. dollars and euros. As of March 31, Netflix reported $10.305 billion in long-term debt on its balance sheet.

In its first-quarter 2019 letter to shareholders, Netflix said it had “no change to our plan to use the high-yield market to finance our cash needs.” The company noted that it recently exercised its option to boost its revolving credit facility from $500 million to $750 million (which Netflix said remains untapped) at the same cost and extended the term from 2022 to 2024.

And Netflix’s cash burn has accelerated: Free cash flow for the first quarter of 2019 was -$460 million (compared with -$287 million in the year-earlier quarter). The company said it now expects its free cash flow deficit for the full-year 2019 to be “modestly higher” than it previously guided, to -$3.5 billion “due to higher cash taxes related to the change in our corporate structure and additional investments in real estate and other infrastructure.” It had previously told investors it was expecting negative free cash flow of $3.0 billion for 2019; Netflix says it still expects free cash flow to improve starting in 2020.

The streaming giant — which needs cash to cover a content budget projected to be $15 billion in 2019 — last raised $2 billion in junk bonds in October 2018. In that offering, Netflix issued €1.1 billion ($1.26 billion) in notes at 4.625% due 2029 and $800 million of its 6.375% notes, also due 2029.

To date, Netflix hasn’t paid down any significant amount of the long-term debt it has accrued. It reported $135.5 million in interest expense for the first quarter of 2019 — about 3% of revenue. That’s up 67% from $81.2 million a year prior (which represented 2.2% of quarterly revenue).

Netflix also has billions in off-balance-sheet content-spending obligations, most of which is due within the next five years. As of March 31, 2019, the company had $18.9 billion of content-payment obligations, including $10.4 billion that aren’t on its balance sheets “as they did not yet meet the criteria for asset recognition.”

Separately, Netflix disclosed in a regulatory filing the 2018 compensation of its top execs. CEO and chairman Reed Hastings’ total pay package increased 48%, to $36.1 million, and chief content officer Ted Sarandos saw his comp climb 32%, to $29.6 million.

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