Credit Agricole to Boost Junk-Bond Unit as Maturity Wall Looms

Credit Agricole SA plans to boost its European high-yield debt capital markets unit as banks prepare for a $1 trillion wall of maturing securities.

France’s largest lender by branches is looking to hire as many as four sales and origination staff in London, Tim Hall, global head of debt capital markets at Credit Agricole said. The Paris-based lender ranks 15th among high-yield, or junk, bond underwriters in Europe, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Banks are bolstering teams that arrange and trade debt used to fund leveraged buyouts as high-yield bond sales surge and firms position themselves for a wave of LBO refinancing expected through 2015. Companies worldwide issued $136 billion of junk-rated debt this year, triple the amount raised a year ago, with Credit Agricole underwriting about $980 million of that, Bloomberg data show.

High-yield debt is rated below Baa3 by Moody’s Investors Service and BBB- by Standard & Poor’s.

Credit Agricole started expanding its European high-yield team in September, hiring Youssef Khlat as global head of high-yield capital markets, Nick Ashby as a trader and Colin Burt as a salesman, according to Hall. In New York, the bank hired Dan Mena as head of trading, and Paul Brown and Melissa Saint-Amour.

Lloyds Banking Group Plc, the lender 41 percent-owned by the U.K. government, said it plans to hire 35 sales and trading staff to its debt capital markets unit, while Credit Suisse Group AG and Bank Of America Merrill Lynch hired managers for its loan and high-yield debt businesses.

Credit Agricole reported 322 million euros ($402 million) or revenue writedowns and provisions in the first quarter, down from 577 million euros a year earlier, the lender said May 12.

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