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Banks Push Ahead to Offload Risky LBO Debt Ahead of Fed Meeting

·2 min read

(Bloomberg) -- A group of banks led by Barclays Plc and Bank of America Corp. is moving forward with a risky leveraged buyout financing despite the volatility gripping the market ahead of the Federal Reserve’s rate decision Wednesday.

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An $1.87 billion secured high-yield bond was launched Monday, led by Barclays, to help finance Brightspeed’s acquisition by Apollo Global Management Inc. Early pricing discussions call for an 8% coupon with a discount that will bring the all-in yield to 10%, according to people familiar with the matter.

A $2 billion leveraged loan sale, led by Bank of America, was also kicked off. That loan was launched at a discount of 92 cents on the dollar, Bloomberg reported on Friday.

Debt tied to leveraged buyouts has been more difficult to sell to investors as the outlook for the global economy darkens. Banks are offering bonds and loans to money managers at steep discounts to entice them to buy. Pricing discussions for the $4 billion secured bond tied to Citrix Systems Inc.’s leveraged buyout widened Monday to a yield of 9.5% to 9.75%, up from the 9.5% maximum Bloomberg previously reported. The cloud computing company’s bonds are being offered at a discount as low as 84.6 cents.

In an effort to reduce the amount they need to sell in the institutional leverage loan market, banks are converting a portion of the financing into a term loan A. The $1 billion term loan A for Brightspeed will be held by the banks themselves for now, according to people familiar with the matter.

Apollo said in August of last year that it would buy part of Lumen Technologies Inc.’s business for $7.5 billion, carving out a new company called Brightspeed, which will provide broadband and telecommunications services for homes and businesses.

The timing suggests that the debt was likely underwritten in a stronger market. The average leveraged loan price traded around 98 cents on the dollar last August compared to the approximately 94 cents currently. The average yield for junk bonds, meanwhile, was around 4% when the deal was announced.

There is an investor call for Brightspeed’s seven-year notes at 11 a.m. New York time on Tuesday. Small group calls are scheduled through Sept. 28 with bond pricing expected next week.

Barclays, Apollo, Brightspeed and Lumen declined to comment. Bank of America did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Updates with term loan A details and additional details throughout.)

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