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Netflix to Raise $1.1 Billion in New Debt From Non-U.S. Lenders

Variety logo Variety 4/24/2017 Todd Spangler
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Netflix is whipping out its credit cards again to keep feeding its thirst for content, announcing plans to raise 1 billion euros (about $1.08 billion) in debt financing from “non-U.S. persons.”

As of the end of March 2017, Netflix’s long-term debt stood at $3.37 billion. It most recently issued $1 billion in new debt last fall.

Netflix, in announcing the plans for the 1 billion euro debt offering, included boilerplate text saying it “intends to use the net proceeds from this offering for general corporate purposes,” but the company has been clear that its primary need for cash is for additional content acquisitions.

Asked why the company was specifically targeting international lenders, a Netflix rep said in an email, “Netflix is a global company and we want to have access to global capital markets. Interest rates are also currently attractive in Europe.”

In its Q1 letter to investors last week, Netflix indicated that it planned to raise more debt, while it also looked to assure investors that it is not — comparatively speaking — excessively leveraged.

“Our debt-to-total-cap ratio, at under 10%, is quite conservative compared to most of our media peers at 30%-70%, and conservative compared to efficient capital-structure theory,” the company said. “Thus we will continue to add long-term debt as needed to finance our expansion of original content, including in Q2’17.”

Also last week, Netflix said it expects to spend more than $1 billion in 2017 marketing its original content.

Netflix’s long-term debt has not been a major drag on earnings. The company reported $46.74 million in interest expense for the first quarter of 2017, on revenue of $2.67 billion. The No. 1 subscription-video streamer needs more debt because cash generated from operations simply isn’t enough to sustain the investment in original content in the year ahead.

Netflix’s massive content spending spree continues to increase its content obligations — the billions in payments for licensed or produced programming over a period of several years.

Per Netflix’s most recent quarterly filing with the SEC, it had $15.3 billion in streaming content obligations at the end of Q1, up from $12.3 billion a year ago. And 57% of the content obligations (about $8.7 billion) are due 12 months or later from March 31, representing a large chunk of change Netflix expects to pay by continuing to add new subscribers.

Pictured above: Netflix original series “The Crown,” which reportedly cost £100 million (about $125 million)

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