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Apple Plans Biggest Ever Bond Offering

The world's biggest technology company is planning to sell the largest amount of bonds by any company other than a bank, as part of an ambitious plan to boost the company's stock price.

Multiple reports Tuesday suggest Apple Inc. is finalizing details of a bond offering with Wall Street bankers that could be the largest ever by a non-financial company.

Apple plans to raise as much as $17 billion US selling bonds with maturities of between three and 30 years, the Wall Street Journal, Reuters and other news agencies reported Tuesday.

Apple has thus far declined to comment on the numerous reports.

In contrast to other bond offerings where the money raised often goes toward paying for operations or takeover plans, the funds raised from Apple's massive bond offering will be earmarked to pay dividends to shareholders.

In recent months, the technology company has implemented a dividend policy to support its shares, which had lost more than 40 per cent of their value since peaking above $700 following the launch of the iPhone 5 last fall.

The shares closed at $442.78 on the Nasdaq on Tuesday, up $12.66, or three per cent on the day.

Apple boasts a war chest of more than $148 billion in cash around the world, but much of that is held overseas. The company currently has about $45 billion in cash domiciled in the U.S., but has committed to pay out more than $100 billion to shareholders between now and 2015.

Rather than pay huge tax penalties for repatriating more than $100 billion of cash into the U.S. to pay dividends, the company has apparently decided it's cheaper to borrow the money and take advantage of record low interest rates.

It's the first time Apple has moved to public debt markets to raise funds since the late 1990s.

Early reports suggest Apple's bankers have received more than $50 billion worth of offers to buy the company's debt, an indication that the company would have had no problem raising even more money.

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