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  • Writer's pictureCapra Ibex

CLO Insider: What Caused May's Market Sell Off?

By Mike Kurinets, Chief Investment Officer


Key Takeaways:

  • Regional bank concerns returned in May. After the regional bank crisis appeared to subside in April, on May 1, the FDIC took over First Republic Bank and sold it to J.P. Morgan. Several days later, PacWest’s stock dropped 60%.

  • Debt ceiling and brinkmanship fears regarding a US government default weighed on the market in May. The government avoided default at the very end of May but, up until that time, much of the market debated the implications of a US default.

  • Inflationary measures showed mixed results in May. The YoY CPI came in at 4.9% vs 5% in April, however the MoM CPI came in at 0.4% [1]. Though the monthly measure was described as a temporary spike, the Fed raised rates another 25 bps in May.

  • Leveraged loan prices dropped noticeably in May. Loan prices fell 0.8 points due to a combination of renewed concern over regional bank failures and fears of a potential US government default.

  • CLO liabilities widened in May. Throughout May, the spread on new-issue liabilities widened by roughly 11 basis points.

  • CLO manager consolidation continued. Angelo Gordon was sold to TPG.


Regional bank concerns resurfaced in May


As we discussed in our March and April letters, after Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank both failed within days of each other in March, there was significant concern in the market about the implications should other regional banks fail. However, by the end of March, various news agencies reported that First Republic was no longer looking for a buyer, taking some of the pressure off the market.


Nevertheless, on May 1, the FDIC announced it was seizing First Republic and selling it to J.P. Morgan. Concerns over regional banks resumed. On May 4, shares of PacWest dropped 60% in a single day.


US default concerns weighed on the markets in May


By the middle of May, most media attention turned to the imminent political action required for the US to avoid defaulting on its debt. US Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, said that the emergency funds would run out on June 1, while other economists suggested there were several extra days of runway. In either case, the political situation had to get resolved by early June or the US would be in default. This concern was the main reason for the sell-off in the leveraged loan market during the 2nd half of May.


CLO liabilities widened slightly in May


As loan prices sold off in May, spreads on CLO liabilities widened across every part of the CLO capital structure.


No CLOs were refinanced or reset in May.


May spread movements are below [2]:

CLO Tranche Rating

April 28, 2023 (bps)

May 31, 2023 (bps)

May Spread Change (bps)

AAA

172

182

+10

AA

230

245

+15

A

305

310

+5

BBB

535

550

+15

BB

930

960

+30

Consolidation among CLO managers continued


We believe that it has been well over a year since market conditions allowed for the creation of attractively priced new-issue CLO equity. According to discussions among market participants, most of the CLO equity in the new-issue market is not creatable at attractive prices and is either placed into captive capital accounts or is purchased directly by CLO managers. Independent 3rd party investors, like ourselves, struggle to find value in new-issue CLO equity.


CLO managers that do not have balance sheets to purchase their own CLO new-issue equity and have not been successful in raising captive capital funds are unable to grow their CLO management businesses and originate new CLOs. Subsequently, consolidation among CLO managers has become increasingly common as smaller managers look for buyers.


Below is a list of some of the CLO manager M&A activity since 2019 that we are aware of:

  1. Angelo Gordon was sold to TPG

  2. AIG’s CLO management business was sold to Blackstone

  3. Sound Point bought a CLO management business from Assured Guaranty

  4. Assured Guaranty bought a CLO management business from BlueMountain

  5. Wellfleet was sold to Blue Owl

  6. Marble Point was sold to Investcorp

  7. CBAM was sold to Carlyle

  8. First Eagle bought a CLO management business from Napier Park [3]

  9. Tall Tree’s CLO management business was sold to Benefit Street

  10. Symphony was sold to Nuveen

  11. Carlson Capital’s CLO management business was sold to WhiteStar

  12. CarVal was sold to AllianceBernstein

  13. Alcentra’s CLO management business was sold to Franklin Templeton

In addition, Sculptor, formerly known as Och-Ziff, is rumored to be selling its CLO management business. Similarly, Tetragon is looking to sell LCM.


Footnotes:



[2] Spreads from CitiVelocity.


[3] Napier Park brand remains independent.


Forward Looking Statements:

Some of the statements contained in this presentation constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws. Forward-looking statements relate to expectations, beliefs, projections, future plans and strategies, anticipated events or trends and similar expressions concerning matters that are not historical facts. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “estimates,” “predicts,” or “potential” or the negative of these words and phrases or similar words or phrases which are predictions of or indicate future events or trends and which do not relate solely to historical matters. You can also identify forward-looking statements by discussions of strategy, plans or intentions. The forward-looking statements contained in this presentation reflect our current views about future events and are subject to numerous known and unknown risks, uncertainties, assumptions and changes in circumstances, many of which are beyond our control, that may cause our actual results to differ significantly from those expressed in any forward-looking statement. Statements regarding the following subjects, among others, may be forward-looking: the use of proceeds from our public and private offerings (as the case may be); our business and investment strategy; our projected operating results; our ability to obtain financing arrangements; financing and advance rates for our target assets; our expected leverage; general volatility of the securities markets in which we invest; our expected investments; effects of hedging instruments on our target assets; rates of leasing and occupancy rates on our target assets; the degree to which our hedging strategies may or may not protect us from interest rate volatility; liquidity of our target assets; impact of changes in governmental regulations, tax law and rates, and similar matters; availability of investment opportunities; availability of qualified personnel; estimates relating to our ability to make distributions; our understanding of our competition; and market trends in our industry, interest rates, real estate values, the debt securities markets or the general economy. While forward-looking statements reflect our good faith beliefs, assumptions and expectations, they are not guarantees of future performance. Furthermore, we disclaim any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement to reflect changes in underlying assumptions or factors, new information, data or methods, future events or other changes. This presentation contains statistics and other data that has been obtained from or compiled from information made available by third-party service providers. We have not independently verified such statistics or data.

Disclaimers:

This confidential document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any securities or partnership interests described herein.

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