The Credit Crunch and Post-modern Private Equity (2007–2008)
In July 2007, turmoil that had been affecting the mortgage markets, spilled over into the leveraged finance and high-yield debt markets. The markets had been highly robust during the first six months of 2007, with highly issuer friendly developments including PIK and PIK Toggle (interest is "Payable In Kind") and covenant light debt widely available to finance large leveraged buyouts. July and August saw a notable slowdown in issuance levels in the high yield and leveraged loan markets with only few issuers accessing the market. Uncertain market conditions led to a significant widening of yield spreads, which coupled with the typical summer slowdown led to many companies and investment banks to put their plans to issue debt on hold until the autumn. However, the expected rebound in the market after Labor Day 2007 did not materialize and the lack of market confidence prevented deals from pricing. By the end of September, the full extent of the credit situation became obvious as major lenders including Citigroup and UBS AG announced major writedowns due to credit losses. The leveraged finance markets came to a near standstill. As a result of the sudden change in the market, buyers would begin to withdraw from or renegotiate the deals completed at the top of the market, most notably in transactions involving: Harman International (announced and withdrawn 2007), Sallie Mae (announced 2007 but withdrawn 2008), Clear Channel Communications (2007) and BCE (2007).
Additionally, the credit crunch has prompted buyout firms to pursue a new group of transactions in order to deploy their massive investment funds. These transactions have included Private Investment in Public Equity (or PIPE) transactions as well as purchases of debt in existing leveraged buyout transactions. Some of the most notable of these transactions completed in the depths of the credit crunch include Apollo Management's acquisition of the Citigroup Loan Portfolio (2008) and TPG Capital's PIPE investment in Washington Mutual (2008). According to investors and fund managers, the consensus among industry members in late 2009 was that private equity firms will need to become more like asset managers, offering buyouts as just part of their portfolio, or else focus tightly on specific sectors in order to prosper. The industry must also become better in adding value by turning businesses around rather than pure financial engineering.
Read more about this topic: History Of Private Equity And Venture Capital
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