September appears to be kickoff season not just for the NFL, but also for leveraged-finance markets across the board, which are beginning to rev up from a quiet August as a range of massive debt offerings begin to hit the road.
Despite the Federal Reserve's hawkish tone Friday that rate hikes could be looming--a sign that would generally imperil deals rated below investment-grade, especially those pegged to a floating rate--investment bankers from Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC) , Credit Suisse (CS) , Jefferies and others now seem as confident as ever in launching such credit packages to lenders in the hunt for the steep interest rates tied to the deals.
The world of leveraged debt--or credit rated below BBB- and Baa3 by Standard & Poors and Moody's, respectively--can broadly be split into two flavors: floating-rate loans and high-yield bonds, both of which are beginning to fire up this month. Bankers introduced more than $14 billion of leveraged loans last week alone, down about $11 billion throughout all of August, based on data compiled by S&P's Leveraged Commentary and Data.
"As with other financial markets, August is usually a quiet time for leveraged loans, and last month was no exception," S&P analysts said in a recent report, noting August was the slowest month by volume since last December's $11.1 billion new deals.
And among the biggest offerings to hit the market so far this month is a $1.35 billion loan, rated five notches below investment grade by Moody's, which investment bankers with Credit Suisse are marketing to partially back Dell Software's $60 billion acquisition of EMC Corp., creating the world's largest privately held technology giant, a person close to the deal told TheStreet's Real Money in a Friday e-mail.
The loan was first marketed to investors on Thursday with a roughly 6.5% annual interest rate tied to the London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor, and an initial Sept. 23 commitment deadline has been set on the offering, the person added, speaking on the condition of anonymity because terms of the deal are private.
As Real Money's Jay Somaney noted in a recent report, notebook sales at Dell and industry peer HP Inc. (HPQ) have been booming recently, with analysts at Morgan Stanley now expecting shipments on a month-to-month basis to climb about 12% and 22% in August and September, respectively.
Other major credit offerings include a $670 million leveraged-loan package--comprising a seven-year $535 million first-lien tranche and an eight-year $135 million second-lien tranche--that investment bankers with Bank of America are shopping to back the $1.6 billion buyout of Outerwall, the owner of coin-counting manufacturer Coinstar and entertainment vendor Redwall.
Outerwall announced in July it would be acquired by alternative asset manager Apollo Global Management (APO) for $52 a share, or a 51% premium, and now Bank of America leveraged-finance bankers are among the underwriters courting lenders in order to support the Outerwall transaction, the person added.
Other major deals to so far hit the market this month include a $1.3 billion seven-year loan aimed to back refinancing plans at dining-hospitality firm Landry's (Jefferies bankers are the primary bookrunners), a $1.9 billion loan backing a Cablevision refinancing, and a $2 billion loan launched by Bank of America Thursday to back the more-than $600 million acquisition of legal-software company Epiq Systems by private-equity firms OMERS and Harvest Partners.