Europe Leveraged Loan Market at Pre-Crisis Strength, Fitch Says

Europe’s leveraged loan market is more resilient than at any time since before the financial crisis with more money at investors’ disposal, according to Fitch Ratings.

Surging demand from collateralized loan obligations, which bundle the debts into tradeable securities, means new issuance may exceed Fitch’s forecast of 50 billion euros ($54 billion) this year, according to Edward Eyerman, a London-based analyst at the rating company. That’s being helped by a drift of investors from speculative-grade bonds, lured to the loans market by stable pricing and more certainty of execution, Eyerman said before Fitch’s Credit Outlook 2016 conference on Wednesday.

“The outlook for loans is more benign,” Eyerman said. “That is a reflection of the fact that our CLOs have money to invest in European assets, our segregated managed accounts have money to invest and our banks have money to invest.”

Loan demand in Europe is at 2007 levels, benefiting from less exposure to volatility from other financial markets and boosted by loan funds with mandates for long-term investments, Eyerman said. Growth will come at the expense of a decline in high-yield bond issuance of as much as 20 percent as volatility and higher costs deter companies from borrowing in the junk market. 

Loan sales continued during the months of highest volatility in 2015 when note sales halted, Eyerman said.

Loan deals amounting to about 5.5 billion euros are due to launch to the European market in the coming month, based on details from people familiar with the various sale plans. Total issuance for 2015 was about 45 billion euros, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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