High-Flying LBO Deals Scarce as Regulators Keep Watchful Eye

LBOs leveraged at 7x

With highly leveraged loans under regulatory scrutiny, leveraged buyouts with debt multiples topping 7x are rare in 2015, compared to last year (and they’re way down from the free-flying pre-crash days).

Most participants expect the collar on leverage multiples to remain in place until either (1) the regulatory environment loosens, or (2) purchase multiples decrease from today’s stratospheric levels.

This chart is taken from LCD’s annual analysis of the 10 biggest LBO deals of the year. That analysis is available to subscribers here.

Follow LCD on Twitter for more leveraged loan news. You can also follow Steve Miller, who conducted this analysis. 


LCD’s Free Online US Loan Primer/Almanac Updated With 3Q Charts

LCD’s popular online Loan Market Primer/Almanac has been updated to include third-quarter 2015 and historical volume and trend charts.

The Primer can be found at, LCD’s free website promoting the leveraged loan asset class. features select stories from LCD news, as well as loan market trends, stats, job postings, and analysis.

We’ll update the Primer charts regularly, and add more as the market dictates.

Some of the charts included with this release of the Primer:

The Loan Market Primer is one of the most popular pieces LCD has published. Updated annually (print) and quarterly (online) to include emerging trends, it is widely used by originating banks, institutional investors, private equity shops, law firms and business schools worldwide.

Check it out, and please share it with anyone wanting an excellent round-up of or introduction to the leveraged loan market.

Here’s the Primer table of contents (go online to see the submenus for each category):

  • What is a Leveraged Loan?
  • Market background
  • Leveraged Loan Purposes
  • How are Loans Syndicated?
  • Types of Syndications
  • The Bank Book
  • Leveraged Loan Investor Market
  • Public vs. Private Markets
  • Credit Risk – Overview
  • Syndicating a Loan – by Facility
  • Pricing a Loan – Primary Market
  • Types of Syndicated Loan Facilities
  • Second-Lien Loans
  • Covenant-Lite Loans
  • Lender Titles
  • Secondary Sales
  • Loan Derivatives
  • Pricing Terms/Rates
  • Fees
  • Original-Issue Discounts
  • Voting Rights
  • Covenants
  • Mandatory Prepayments
  • Collateral
  • Spread Calculation
  • Default/Restructuring
  • Amend-to-Extend

LCD’s High Yield Market Primer/Almanac Updated with 3Q Charts

LCD’s online High Yield Bond Market Primer has been updated to include third-quarter 2015 and historical volume and trend charts.

The Primer can be found at, LCD’s free website promoting the asset class. features select stories from LCD news, weekly trends, stats, and analysis, along with recent job postings.

We’ll update the U.S. Primer charts regularly, and add more as the market dictates (new this time around: an historical look at Fallen Angels, courtesy S&P).

Charts included with this release of the Primer:

  • US High Yield Issuance – Historical
  • 2015 High Yield Issuance, by Purpose
  • High Yield LBO Issuance
  • Fallen Angels – Historical
  • Cash Flows to High Yield Funds, ETFs
  • PIK Toggle Issuance (or lack thereof)
  • Yield to Maturity: Historical, Recent

LCD’s Loan Market Primer and High Yield Bond Market Primer are some of the most popular pieces LCD has published. Updated annually (print) and quarterly (online) to include emerging trends, they are widely used by originating banks, institutional investors, private equity shops, law firms and business schools worldwide.

Check them out, and please share them with anyone wanting an excellent round-up of or introduction to the leveraged finance market.


European High Yield Bond Funds Record €254M Outflow

J.P. Morgan’s weekly analysis of European high-yield funds shows a €254 million outflow for the week ended Oct. 7. The reading includes a €126 million net outflow from ETFs, and a €38 million net inflow for short duration funds. The reading for the week ended Sept. 30 is revised from a €323 million outflow to a €340 million outflow.

The provisional reading for September is a €696 million outflow, marking the fourth consecutive monthly outflow. August saw an outflow of €1.1 billion, the largest on record, with July and June having recorded €260 million and €702 million outflows, respectively. March’s €3.1 billion influx remains the largest monthly inflow on record. January and February both registered a €1.9 billion monthly inflow, while April’s inflow was €1.4 billion, and May’s inflow was €550 million.

Inflows for 2015 through September are €6.3 billion, versus full-year inflows of €4.15 billion and €8.94 billion in 2014 and 2013, respectively. Inflows for 2015 peaked at €9 billion through the end of May.

With secondary rallying last week, and cash balances building through coupons, a lack of primary, and some redemptions, outflows remain the most significant negative technical in the market. Still, with ETFs accounting for nearly 50% of the latest weekly outflow, versus an average 21% contribution since the start of June, there are hopes that managed accounts are seeing outflows slow. Moreover, there are signs primary issuance is re-awakening, with a £790 million two-part deal from Lowell currently marketing, and up to €700 million of secured notes expected to be launched soon from Verisure.

Retail cashflow for U.S. high-yield funds turned back into positive territory with a net inflow of $735 million in the week ended Oct. 7, according to Lipper. The inflow barely dents the $2.2 billion withdrawal the week before, but it’s the fourth inflow over the past five weeks for a net outflow of $977 million over that span. The net inflow masks an underlying dynamic that could suggest market-timing, hedging strategies, and fast-money investors in the asset class. The mutual fund segment was negative $675 million in the latest reading, but it was filled in and overblown by a whopping $1.4 billion infusion to exchange-traded funds. The full-year reading is now negative $4.3 billion, with just 7% of that ETF-related.

J.P. Morgan only calculates flows for funds that publish daily or weekly updates of their net asset value and total fund assets. As a result, J.P. Morgan’s weekly analysis looks at around 55 funds, with total assets under management of €38 billion. Its monthly analysis takes in a larger universe of 100 funds, with €52 billion of assets under management. For a full analysis, please see “Europe receives HY fund flow calculation.” –Luke Millar

Follow Luke on Twitter for leveraged finance news and insight. 


Bond prices surge again, reach 2.5-week high with broad gains

The average bid of LCD’s flow-name high-yield bonds surged 154 bps in today’s reading, to 95.10% of par, yielding 7.62%, from 93.56% of par, yielding 8.05%, on Oct. 6. Performance within the 15-bond sample was broadly positive, with nine of the 14 gainers up more than a point, and a single constituent unchanged.

Today’s gain follows a 146 bps boost on Tuesday, for an overall rally of 300 bps this week. The advance puts the average at a 2.5-week high and 312 bps above the recent low of 91.98 recorded on Sept. 29, which itself was not just a 2015 trough, but also a four-year low, or the deepest average bid price since 91.25 on Oct. 6, 2011.

Dating back two weeks, however, includes some of the September slump, so the average is up just 66 bps over that span. And for the trailing four-week observation, the average is negative 334 bps.

As for the year to date, the average is down 60 bps, which is much moderated from the deeper negative year-to-date reading of 372 bps at the end of September. Recall that the 2014 decline was 536 bps, which followed a loss of 463 bps in 2014.

Today’s gain was driven by ongoing strength in heavily shorted names in sectors that have recently been under pressure, like Energy and Telecom. Today’s lead gainer was the Dish Network 5.875% notes due 2022, which jumped 6.5 points, to 95, after selling off heavily in recent weeks. Moreover, buying interest has been buoyed by heavy cash inflows to the asset class this week, with $1.1 billion plowed into the exchanged-traded fund JNK over the past three days alone.

With the solid rebound in the average bid price, the average yield to worst fell 43 bps, to 7.62%, and the average option-adjusted spread to worst cinched inward by 47 bps to 617 bps. Both are roughly 100 bps inside the observations at the recent trough, which were 8.62% and T+708, respectively.

The yield and spread in today’s reading are now back in line with the broad index. The S&P U.S. Issued High Yield Corporate Bond Index closed the last reading, Wednesday, Oct. 7, with a yield to worst of 7.61%, and an option-adjusted spread to worst of T+628.

Bonds vs. loans
The average bid of LCD’s flow-name loans was unchanged in today’s reading, at 97.20% of par, for a discounted loan yield of 4.35%. The gap between the bond yield and discounted loan yield to maturity is 327 bps. — Staff reports

The data:

  • Bids rise: The average bid of the 15 flow names jumped 154 bps, to 95.10.
  • Yields fall: The average yield to worst dropped 43 bps, to 7.62%.
  • Spreads tighten: The average spread to U.S. Treasuries pulled inward by 47 bps, to T+617.
  • Gainers: The largest of the 14 gainers was the Dish Network 5.875% notes due 2022, which surged 6.5 points, to 95.
  • Decliners: None.
  • Unchanged: The Fiat Chrysler 8.25% notes due 2021 were steady, at 106.5.

Like smaller peers, larger companies’ earnings likely slowed in 3Q

An index tracking private middle market companies has foreshadowed a slowdown in revenue and earnings of larger public companies in the third quarter of 2015.

“We expect to see the theme of slower growth play out this earnings season,” said Edward Altman, the Max L. Heine Professor of Finance, Emeritus at the NYU Stern School of Business.

“Middle market companies have historically outperformed their larger public peers, so we anticipate relatively low year-over-year revenue and especially EBITDA growth from S&P component companies in the third quarter,” said Altman.

Altman collaborated with Golub Capital on the Golub Capital Altman Index, which was featured today in the second edition of the quarterly Golub Capital Middle Market Report, which includes an analysis of the index. The index is based on the sales and earnings data of roughly 150 private U.S. companies in Golub Capital’s loan portfolio.

The index showed revenue of privately held middle market companies increased 7.95% year-over-year in the first two months of the third quarter of 2015, compared to 9.26% in the first two months of the second quarter of 2015.

EBITDA rose by 3.95% in the third quarter, compared to an increase of 6.93% year-over-year during the first two months of the second quarter of 2015.

Still, the index shows that private middle market companies remain a resilient driver of economic growth, said Lawrence Golub, Golub Capital’s CEO.

“While revenues and earnings in the period grew at a healthy pace, margins continued to be pressured by such factors as rising labor costs and the strength of the U.S. dollar, which is impacting the pricing power of U.S. firms with international competitors,” Golub said.

The index showed an 8.84% increase in revenue and a 9.88% increase in earnings for the healthcare sector. This was probably due to the Affordable Care Act, which increased access to health care services, the report said.

Revenue of private middle market industrial companies fell 0.68% year-on-year in the third quarter, and earnings of industrial companies fell 1.62%.

Revenue of private middle market information technology companies rose 6.65%, but earnings slumped 3.62%.

“The information technology sector saw negative profit growth, reflecting, we believe, greater investment in product development,” said Golub.

The index contains limited exposure to the financials, utilities, energy, and materials sectors. Thus, calculations are made for the public indexes both including and excluding these sectors.

The index “is the first and only index based on actual sales and earnings data for middle market companies,” the report said.

“The index has served as a reliable indicator of the overall growth rates in revenue and earnings of public companies in market indexes such as the S&P 500 and S&P SmallCap 600, as well as quarterly GDP, according to statistical backtesting dating back to 2012, when data began to be tracked,” the report said. — Abby Latour

Follow Abby on Twitter @abbynyhk for middle-market deals, leveraged M&A, BDCs, distressed debt, private equity, and more.


Loan bids extend decline with fifth-consecutive drop

The average bid of LCD’s flow-name composite fell 32 bps over the past few trading sessions, to 97.20% of par, from 97.52 on Oct. 1. Today’s drop marks the fifth-consecutive drop in the average bid, for a total decline of 128 bps over the 2.5-week span.

The average bid remains at its lowest level since December 2014, and of note, none of the 15 names in the sample are bid at par.

The composite remains biased towards the downside, with 12 loans lower, one unchanged and two higher; however, the two advancers gained a mere eighth of a point from the previous reading. The decliners, meanwhile, ranged from 0.125-1.75 points. Avaya’s typically volatile TLB-7 (L+525, 1% LIBOR floor) was responsible for the 1.75-point drop.

After a downcast session Friday, the market remains very choppy even as high-yield has clawed back some losses. While some loans have recovered from lows touched Friday, others continue to slide.

Traders continue to keep a close eye on the primary market, though there’s little clarity around clearing yields. Amid the recent volatility, several M&A/LBO transactions have gone into overtime and remain in price discovery, while three opportunistic transactions have been withdrawn all together.

With the average loan bid falling 32 bps, the average spread to maturity gained nine basis points, to L+461.

By ratings, here’s how bids and the discounted spreads stand:

  • 99.04/L+383 to a four-year call for the nine flow names rated B+ or higher by S&P or Moody’s; STM in this category is L+377.
  • 94.44/L+610 for the six loans rated B or lower by one of the agencies; STM in this category is L+568.


Loans vs. bonds
The average bid of LCD’s flow-name high-yield bonds advanced 146 bps, to 93.56% of par, yielding 8.05%, from 92.10 on Oct 1st. The gap between the bond yield and discounted loan yield to maturity stands at 371 bps. – Staff reports

To-date numbers

  • October: The average flow-name loan dropped 52 bps from the final September reading of 97.72.
  • Year to date: The average flow-name loan climbed 28 bps from the final 2014 reading of 96.92.

Loan data

  • Bids slip: The average bid of the 15 flow names tumbled 32 bps, to 97.20% of par.
  • Bid/ask spreads tighter: The average bid/ask spread tightened two basis points, to 36 bps.
  • Spreads grow: The average spread to maturity – based on axe levels and stated amortization schedules – increased nine basis points, to L+461.

Rolls-Royce acts on low U.S. yields in rare bond market appearance

Another muted primary-market session was enlivened by a $1.5 billion deal for RollsRoyce, a name last seen in the U.S. debt markets more than two decades ago. The company, which sought to bolster its liquidity position amid share buybacks and capital-spending plans, launched $500 million of five-year notes at T+105 and $1 billion of 10-year notes at T+160, or firm to guidance ranges and substantially through initial whispers in the areas of T+137.5 and T+187.5, respectively.

Moody’s today noted that the company was motivated to capitalize on “historically low yields available in the U.S. bond market,” and said the ratings outlook at the A3 level was unaffected despite the attendant rise in leverage for the infrequent borrower.

The deal also came as the CDX IG 25 was, on net, little changed today in the 87.5 bps area, with most single-name constituents tighter for a second straight session, and with the index down from recent multiyear highs near 95 bps. But while the footing is firmer week to week, issuers unencumbered by earnings blackouts still have every reason to proceed with caution: many recent new issues continue to trade wide of issuance, including long-dated bonds placed by Hewlett Packard Enterprise in a $14.6 billion, curve-spanning offering backing its spin-off from the hardware business, a deal that the company was forced to pay 40-70 bps in new-issue concessions to clear.

Meantime, five-year CDS referencing the debt of DuPont rose 11% today to a four-year high in the mid-80 bps area, after the company yesterday said it would replace CEO Ellen Kullman with Tyco International Chairman Edward Breen, who was recently added to DuPont’s board amid what the company described as a “challenging environment” necessitating a “deep dive” into the company’s cost structure. The move dovetailed with steady pressure from activist investors to explore ways to unlock value, including via a possible breakup of the company. DuPont spreads vaulted higher from a low base in July 2013, after activist Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund Management took a big stake in the company, in what was considered a contributing factor in DuPont’s later decision to spin off its titanium dioxide unit to shareholders.

After inking a deal to acquire Pharmedium Healthcare for $2.575 billion, the five-year CDS referencingAmerisourceBergen was steady today in the 40 bps area, which is where it has been indicated throughout the year, trade data show. ABC in February placed a $1 billion offering backing its $2.5 billion acquisition of MWI Veterinary Supply, an animal-health distribution company.

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services today affirmed the A- rating and stable outlook on ABC, citing expectations for a “modest” increase in leverage to 1.6x for fiscal 2016, pro forma for the latest acquisition, from 1.2x. ABC plans to secure a $1 billion, five-year term loan in support of the transaction, and will fund the balance with cash on hand and by utilizing its credit facility, the company said today.

Today’s only other primary-market highlight was provided by Royal Bank of Canada’s $1.75 billion offering of 2.1% covered bonds due October 2020, which was placed at 72 bps over mid-swaps, or 2.107%. The issue was printed in line with guidance and at the firm end of early whispers in the area of 75 bps plus mid-swaps. The new 2020 covered bonds were inked at levels above the Canadian bank’s last five-year secured offering, in January, when it placed a $2 billion offering of 1.875% covered bonds due February 2020 at mid-swaps plus 44, or 1.878%. – Staff reports


Fifth Street-backed platform seeks to update middle-market lending

Len Tannenbaum, the founder of Fifth Street Asset Management, is seeking to modernize middle-market lending with a new platform where arrangers of these loans intersect with investors.

“The process for middle-market loan syndications remains inefficient and cumbersome and has not changed in any meaningful way over the last few decades,” said Tannenbaum, who is also CEO of Fifth Street Asset Management.

“It involves a tight club of 50 to 100 lenders that spend an enormous amount of time scheduling calls with each other, scribbling on notepads and sending forms back and forth via fax.”

Thus, Tannenbaum is launching MMKT, which will tackle the inefficiencies of syndication to middle-market companies. A full launch of the system is slated for the first quarter of 2016.

In recent years, lenders to middle-market companies have multiplied as banks curtail lending to these borrowers in the face of stricter regulation.

MMKT’s end-to-end platform was built using advanced encryption technology. Open to qualified institutional buyers only, potential investors will be able to browse loan listings, analyze private company information, register loan commitments, purchase loans, and take assignment of loans. Lenders can also list holdings through the platform and sell loan investments.

Loan originators will be able to submit loan details, enter diligence data, and sell loans to selected private or public groups. Financial sponsors and borrowers will be able to manage the loan buying process, and carry out post-closing and agency tasks.

Technology for the project was spearheaded by Len’s brother, David, who was chief technology officer of LiftDNA, a supply side platform, before it was acquired by digital advertising company OpenX in February 2012. David Tannenbaum is president of MMKT. Len Tannenbaum is interim CEO of MMKT.

The MMKT platform offers greater functionality than existing products geared to the loan market, and is more specifically tailored to the middle market lending process, Tannenbaum said. Eventually, MMKT will expand to secondary middle market loan trading.

“A big problem today in the loan market is that many loans are not based on actual bids and offers; they are based on indicative quotes that may not be updated. These indicative quotes are not real,” Tannenbaum said.

“We believe every market started off as closed, non-transparent markets. As part of their evolution, many have opened up. As we move towards a more liquid and transparent middle market lending industry, some may not be able to take advantage of inefficiencies anymore. Those not marking their books appropriately may not like this offering.”

So far, Fifth Street has closed syndication of a Fifth Street one-stop financing via the platform. MMKT is not accepting non-Fifth Street loan listings at this time, until the technology and user process is ready. Eventually, it will be open to other loan originators, who Tannenbaum believes will similarly benefit from using the MMKT platform, saving time and resources.

Smaller lenders, too, will reap benefits from the platform by syndicating their deals in MMKT and by gaining access to deals syndicated by other lenders. MMKT’s technology will likewise work for the co-investment process.

Fifth Street defines middle market as companies generating EBITDA of $10-100 million. MMKT is set up to syndicate deals of any size, but is optimized for syndicating deals that fall within Fifth Street’s traditional definition of middle market.

MMKT is expected to syndicate several large transactions over the next few months. Tannenbaum estimates the size of the market could be $100 billion per year.

“The technology and solution is applicable to many other liquid markets as well,” he said.

Fifth Street Asset Management is an asset-management company that advises two Fifth Street BDCs. Fifth Street Floating Rate Corp. trades on the Nasdaq as FSFR and provides sponsor-backed midsize companies with senior secured loans. Fifth Street Finance Corp. trades on Nasdaq as FSC and focuses on lending to sponsor-backed small and midsize companies. – Abby Latour

Follow Abby on Twitter @abbynyhk for middle-market deals, leveraged M&A, distressed debt, private equity, and more


The 3Q US leveraged loan market, in 6 charts

It was a tough three months in the worldwide financial markets, with leveraged loans finding no exception (though they fared better than high yield bonds and equities, to be sure).

In brief, here’s the story of  the 3rd-quarter U.S. leveraged loan market.

leveraged loan prices

repricing volume

leveraged loan M&A issuance

leveraged loan outstandings

US CLO issuance

leveraged loan fund flows

Theses charts are taken from LCD’s Quarterly Review, which details pretty much every aspect of the leveraged loan market, including primary issuance, secondary levels, yields, fund flows, CLOs, M&A, and much more. It includes commentary by LCD’s Steve Miller.

The Wrap is available to LCD subscribers here. If you’d like to check it out or find out more about LCD, the S&P unit that powers this website, Marc Auerbach in New York will be happy to help you out.