Managers of collateralized loan obligations — securities made up of bundled loans with junk credit ratings — are rushing to close deals ahead of the year-end move away from the London interbank offered rate. The interest-rate benchmark underpins trillions of dollars of financial contracts but was scheduled for phaseout after a manipulation scandal.
That is helping push CLO sales to records. U.S. issuance topped $19.2 billion in August, a monthly record in data going back a decade, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence’s LCD.
A wave of CLO refinancings this year allowed some managers to include fallback language shifting to SOFR in their documents, analysts said. But for other deals, CLO managers and investors must negotiate that changeover, which could create conflicts if they have different rate preferences.
Disruptions to the transition could increase the extra yield, or spread, that investors’ demand to hold triple-A rated CLO debt during the fourth quarter of this year, depending on how quickly the loan market transitions and how new CLO deals and investors position themselves, said Citi analysts in a June note.
SOFR is based on the cost of transactions in the market for overnight repurchase agreements, where large banks and hedge funds borrow or lend to one another using U.S. Treasurys as collateral. Unlike Libor, which tends to rise during periods of market stress, it doesn’t adjust for shifts in credit.
During last year’s spring selloff, the difference between three-month Libor and SOFR rose to 1.4 percentage points at its peak, according to BofA. That means CLO debtholders received a higher rate than what they would have if their bonds were linked to SOFR.
Author(s): Sebastian Pellejero
Publication Date: 12 September 2021
Publication Site: Wall Street Journal