US banks take successful from discounted company bond gross sales


Wall Street banks are taking steep losses on company bond offers signed earlier than the most recent downturn in monetary markets, as buyers demand larger reductions and better yields to lend to firms.

When banks agree bond gross sales on behalf of firms, they usually set a most rate of interest that buyers can count on to obtain in alternate for getting the debt — factoring in some flexibility in case markets transfer.

But markets have dropped a lot additional than envisaged in 2022, as excessive inflation, struggle in Europe and constrained provide chains have been met by central banks lifting borrowing prices and withdrawing huge debt-buying programmes. An index of high-yield bonds run by Ice Data Services has dropped almost 13 per cent to this point in 2022.

In flip, funding banks have minimize the costs of firms’ bonds in an effort to draw consumers — consuming into their underwriting charges. “Almost every single deal that was underwritten will have to come at a discount and underwriters are having to pay for it,” mentioned a banker at a big US financial institution.

Packaging group Intertape Polymer, which has a low credit standing, borrowed $400mn from buyers final week at an rate of interest of 10 per cent. That determine marked the highest finish of a beforehand agreed cap the corporate was keen to pay to consumers of its bonds, when a bunch of banks led by Deutsche Bank agreed to underwrite the deal in March, in keeping with folks aware of the financing.

Yet even a price of 10 per cent was insufficiently interesting to lure lenders after the current sell-off in bond markets, main Deutsche to decrease the value on the bond to 82 cents on the greenback. By dropping the value, the general yield on supply — which strikes in the other way — rose to greater than 14 per cent.

Bankers must pay the distinction once they decide to low cost the value of a bond providing that they’ve already dedicated to. Multiple bankers mentioned that for offers signed up across the time of Intertape, there could be round 2 cents of permitted low cost to permit underwriters “flex” to promote the deal, adopted by an extra 3 cents of charges.

Ultimately, as soon as a deal drops beneath roughly 95 cents on the greenback, losses rack up for the banks.

Estimates of losses on the Intertape deal are round $50mn throughout Deutsche Bank, Bank of Montreal, Credit Suisse, Golub Capital and Jefferies, in keeping with folks aware of the deal. Deutsche Bank declined to remark.

Such steep reductions within the company bond market are uncommon. Only 5 different offers because the 2008 monetary disaster have been issued at or beneath the 82 cent worth degree hit by Intertape, in keeping with monetary knowledge supplier LCD.

A second deal final week for US chip materials maker Entegris, underwritten on the finish of 2021 by a financial institution group led by Morgan Stanley, additionally got here at a reduction, simply shy of 91 cents on the greenback.

The $895mn bond was issued on the highest potential agreed coupon, or rate of interest, of 5.95 per cent, in keeping with folks aware of the deal. The worth low cost pushed the general yield on the bonds to 7.5 per cent. Losses for the banks — together with Barclays, Bank of America, PNC, Truist and Wells Fargo together with Morgan Stanley — stood at round $35mn, in keeping with the folks.

The underwriters declined to remark.

Bankers mentioned they’ve already modified their method to underwriting new offers, constructing in a much bigger cushion for them to promote bonds at a reduction sooner or later whereas nonetheless incomes their charges. But it’s going to nonetheless take just a few extra months for outdated offers to work their manner by way of the market, they mentioned. Losses are anticipated to be painful, however manageable.

Bankers additionally mentioned that firms uncovered to a flip within the financial cycle have been notably punished within the bond market, with Intertape’s deal seen for instance of this.

In the weeks forward, one of many offers that bond buyers and bankers alike are watching intently is the buyout of cloud computing group Citrix. Elliott and Vista Equity Partners in January agreed to take the corporate personal for $16.5bn, as a way to merge it with Vista-owned Tibco. With the debt gross sales led by Bank of America, the acquisition is anticipated to wish billions of {dollars} in financing throughout debt markets.

Bankers are already hinting that some creativity could also be wanted to get the transaction over the road, as soon as regulatory approvals are finalised. “It’s going to be a challenge in this environment,” mentioned one banker aware of the deal.