Friday, June 5, 2009

CFO - More Companies Tripping up on Loan Covenants

A number of highly leveraged firms are now breaching the leverage ratios, fixed-charge coverage ratios, and net-worth minimums that were set in stronger, more-liquid markets. According to Standard & Poor's Leveraged Commentary & Data, there were 98 covenant amendments (publicly disclosed ones, that is) to high-yield corporate loan agreements in the first quarter of 2009, up from 62 in the previous quarter. Experts expect just as many, if not more, in the second quarter.

Number of amendments lenders made to high-yield corporate loans

Other, less-leveraged companies will also be talking to their lenders about amending covenants. (According to one academic study, between a quarter and a third of all public companies will trip a loan covenant over a 10-year period.) And the conversations may not be pleasant. When credit was abundant, many banks felt they were taken advantage of, says Steven Bavaria, managing director of leveraged finance at credit-rating agency DBRS. "The gun was at their heads to reduce fees and spreads," he says. "Now some of the same borrowers have to go hat in hand and ask for covenant relief. They shouldn't expect a warm, helping hand from the bankers." Read more...

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