The US investment grade corporate bond market has seen some exceptional transactions since the beginning of the year, but everyone (including the underwriters) was taken aback by the size and scope of the $16 billion six-tranche Yankee offering brought by Swiss healthcare and pharmaceutical firm Roche on February 18.

Lots of records were broken by this deal. It was easily the largest dollar deal ever, beating the $11bn three-tranche effort by General Electric Capital Corporation in 2002, and was

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