(Bloomberg) -- More debt financing was canceled or postponed globally in 2022 than even during the tumultuous pandemic period.
Roughly 140 fund-raising transactions including bonds, loans, and asset-backed securities worth at least $75 billion were pulled in 2022, only slightly below the combined tally of 2021 and 2020, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
While that’s as far back as the data goes, it’s likely been several years since so many companies withdrew from the market, given the recent era of cheap and plentiful money.
The war in Ukraine, high inflation, soaring interest rates and recession concerns combined to scare investors off this year. The first quarter alone saw 50 deals shelved and pessimism continued throughout the year as lenders remained wary.
“People are naturally more cautious in a recession,” said Carlo Fontana, global head of syndicate with UniCredit SpA. “It’s taking a bit longer and becoming more complicated to do deals as even relationship lenders are evaluating their exposure.”
Almost 70% of the pulled transactions were bond offerings, including those for highly-rated names including Central American Bank for Economic Integration, Eesti Energia AS, and Johnson Electric Holdings Ltd. Leveraged loans were the next most impacted market with 21 deals dropped, affecting the likes of Mallinckrodt Plc and Topgolf Callaway Brands Corp.
Still, some borrowers managed to take advantage of small windows of relative calm to revive deals. Private equity sponsor Bain brought back a loan backing the buyout of Inetum in September after putting it on hold for a month, while Ceske Drahy AS returned for a bond offering in October after about a three-month delay. In total, 10 bond deals and eight loan transactions were revived.
A November sales surge in Europe’s main funding market illustrated how volatile the business of selling bonds has become, with issuers relying on positive headlines that grant a few days of stability to launch new deals. The region’s primary bond market has seen 48 days without any issuance so far this year, the most ever.
Elsewhere in credit markets:
Banks have returned to syndicate a bond to fund Bain Capital’s acquisition of House of HR, two months after pulling the deal due to challenging market conditions.
- NatWest Group Plc has decided to repay an obscure 30-year-old junior bond early, prompting brokers to jack up their prices on the notes by as much as 60%
- Czech state-controlled utility CEZ AS signed a €790 million loan with the European Investment Bank while seeking a debut Schuldschein
- So-called index-linked savings certificates, or ILSCs — which are tax-free and match the pace of price growth — paid out a record £1.2 billion ($1.5 billion) in the financial year ended April
Asia’s primary bond market saw several domestic transactions from China, India, Japan and Malaysia while only one issuer sold a US dollar transaction.
- WLB Asset II D Pte Ltd sold a so-called US dollar orange bond aimed at improving women’s livelihood
- Sichuan Gloport Investment Development Group Co. is set to price a yuan bond backed by a standby letter of credit from Bank of Shanghai
- Activia Properties Inc. sold a 2 billion yen green bond, and Cagamas Bhd is marketing a Malaysia ringgit sukuk deal
- A group of creditors to India’s startup Byju’s has asked the company to immediately repay part of a $1.2 billion loan
- Country Garden Holdings Co. Ltd. and Longfor Group Holdings Ltd. are set to receive offshore loans that could help their debt repayment, in the latest sign of support for the stricken property sector
The Federal Reserve has pushed borrowing costs for blue-chip companies to the highest levels since the financial crisis, to help tame the worst inflation in four decades.
- JPMorgan Chase & Co. priced its seventh bond issue of 2022 on Monday, raising over $31 billion this year
- Amgen Inc. secured a $28.5 billion bridge loan to fund its purchase of Horizon Therapeutics Plc
- Investment firm Sixth Street Partners is leading a group of direct lenders for a $2.6 billion loan to help finance Thoma Bravo LLC’s buyout of Coupa Software Inc.
- Banks are offloading at least another $520 million of loans backing the acquisition of Citrix Systems Inc. in a second block trade of the debt that lenders have been stuck holding for months
- US corporate debt rated as close to the investment-grade threshold will be a “sweet spot” in the credit market next year, said Anders Persson, chief investment officer at Nuveen