Despite a resounding ‘No’ vote in the Greek referendum, which saw the country’s people vote against further austerity, the reaction in European loan and bond markets has largely been orderly and contained. The vote has however ushered in a further period of political uncertainty and economic volatility in Europe, with issuers having to wait and see how the situation develops before coming to market with new deals.
In the aftermath of the vote, Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis resigned. His replacement will be instrumental in the talks that will now ensue as Greece grapples with how to maintain liquidity in its banking system, and the EU ponders how to prevent (or in a worst-case scenario, manage) the country’s exit from the euro. There is much at stake, with concerns that despite stringent capital controls instigated last week, ATMs across the country may soon run out of cash.
The market’s reaction today was more muted than a week ago when the referendum was announced, with the iTraxx crossover widening by 15 points this morning to 342, and the FTSE 100 and Eurostoxx 50 shedding roughly 42 points and 58 points, respectively. “The market doesn’t seem to care. It’s less of an event than last Monday, after Tspiras called for the referendum. Even euro/dollar is not doing much,” said one investor.
The sovereign bond market followed suit, with 10-year yields on government paper from Italy, Spain, and Portugal widening by 11-14 bps. Greek 10-year bonds widened by 257 bps. Meanwhile the 10-year Bund yield tightened by five basis points, to 74.
High-yield corporates slipped 0.5-2 points across the board in early trading, while Greek-related names were more heavily hit.PPC’s 4.75% notes due 2017 were the biggest losers, down nine points, while Hellenic Petroleum’s 8% notes due 2017 fell seven points. OTE bonds, often a proxy for sovereign risk during a crisis, were also hit – the borrower’s 7.875% notes due 2018 fell six points, while its 3.5% notes due 2020 fell five points.
Loan markets have also been hampered by the volatility, and are likely to remain moribund as issuers wait to see how the Greek situation plays out. “We’ll be gazing at our navels for the next few weeks,” said one arranger. “We can’t post on pricing. There is a market, but we don’t know where it is. The market’s not closed, because there are buyers – there just aren’t any sellers. Why would anybody issue in this market?”
There are investors out there with cash, and there are also several deals ready to launch, the largest of which is the LBO financing for glass-bottle business Verallia, which is expected to total roughly €2 billion of loans and bonds. The transaction, led by BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Nomura, Société Générale CIB, and UBS, was understood to be ready to launch if the Greeks had voted ‘Yes’ in the referendum, and the arrangers could still look to de-risk via an early bird phase among select lenders, rather than be on risk for the entire financing over what could be a volatile summer.
The lack of visibility may also affect the launch of expected deals from GFKL Financial Services and Motor Fuel Group, which sources say has been shown to investors already.
In bonds, Dufry, Synlabs, and Center Parcs remain in the pipeline, while pre-marketing took place for a small U.K. company last week, sources said.
In the CLO market, hopes that a ‘Yes’ vote would offer a window of opportunity for those looking to price transactions ahead of the summer lull were dashed by the results of yesterday’s poll, and arrangers and investors are now busy collating investor feedback, and assessing appetite and likely price levels. However, the ‘No’ vote means new-issue activity could now be on hold until September. Carlyle via Citi, and Pramerica via Credit Suisse were among those looking to price imminently, with another handful behind them, sources say.
As reported last week, this situation may or may not be a problem for CLO managers with warehouses open – depending on the make-up of that warehouse and the future direction of the secondary market. Any significant sell off in secondary in the coming weeks raises the potential for warehouses to go underwater, but a warehouse comprising mostly primary assets bought at par or a discount will be better able to withstand secondary weakness than one constructed via secondary market purchases at par and above. Indeed for those starting to ramp new transactions, the current conditions – a mix of better M&A loan supply, a halt in repricings and spread compression, and volatility – may be ideal in terms of generating a strong equity performance. – Staff reports