U.S. issuance of collateralized loan obligations is off to a slow start, with just two deals pricing in January, according to Wells Fargo.
Both deals were broadly syndicated loan CLOs, for a total month-to-date volume of $826 million, the lowest monthly total since October 2011.
In a report published Friday, Wells Fargo noted that, while January has been historically slow in terms of new issuance, this January was exceptionally slow, at just 32% and 16% of January 2014 and 2015 issuance, respectively.
Both managers that have issued in 2016 issued three or more deals in 2015. The trend toward issuance concentration in the larger platforms has become more common; in 2013 and 2014, 12%-13% of all deals were issued by managers with at least five CLOs priced in each respective year; in 2015, this percentage increased to 21%.
The slowdown in primary issuance came as spreads on CLOs widened in the secondary market, though the levels varied widely based on the collateral of deals.
Pricing of broadly syndicated, below investment grade corporate loans also continues to be bifurcated: almost half of all loans are bid at 98 or higher, while the index is still below 88.
Coverage ratios of CLOs remain in focus, as many energy-related loans were recently put on watch for downgrade by Moody’s, and two loans held in CLOs have defaulted in the past week.
The European CLO market also saw little activity thus far in January, with one deal pricing for a total of $414 million in issuance. This is comparable to January 2015, where one deal also priced (with a deal size of $500 million).