(Bloomberg) -- A potential tax benefit is spurring US companies including PepsiCo Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. to sell bonds through their Singapore subsidiaries, fueling a record surge of sales from borrowers in the city state.   

The tactic can allow companies to deduct interest expense from their taxable income in both the US and Singapore. That double deduction means that effective borrowing costs — after taxes — can be materially lower than they would be with a bond issued in the US.

The mechanics of qualifying for the benefit are complicated and a rule that emerged from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in December may wind up stopping firms from using the technique. But companies may be able to take advantage of it for at least the next three years.  

As companies sell bonds, they are pushing debt sales volume from Singapore ever higher. Last year, corporates sold $51.5 billion of notes from the city state, more than double the previous year and an all-time record. That mainly came from Pfizer Inc.’s sale of $31 billion of bonds, one of the biggest corporate bond offerings on record, in May 2023 through a Singapore unit to help finance an acquisition.

The sales have continued this year amid a rush of supply: PepsiCo Singapore Financing sold $1.75 billion of bonds earlier this month, and IBM International Capital sold $5.5 billion of securities in late January. Investment-grade rated companies have been flooding the market with bond sales globally. In the US, high-grade sales have topped $361 billion so far this year, after borrowing costs started falling in October. 

A spokesperson for IBM declined to comment. PepsiCo and Pfizer did not respond to requests for comment.

New tax rules are taking shape through the OECD to ensure minimum corporate rates are levied globally. Singapore domestic tax law allows a company, including a local subsidiary of a foreign corporation, to deduct interest payments on debt from their taxable income in the nation state. At the same time, the US tax code might allow companies to deduct a foreign branch’s interest expense from its US taxable income. 

--With assistance from Finbarr Flynn.

(Updates with issuance information in fifth paragraph)

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