Platinum Equity to Wrap $4 Billion Sale: U.S. Credit Week Ahead

Platinum Equity is poised to headline a robust calendar next week with a $4 billion acquisition financing package. The private equity firm’s bond-and-loan deal comes as leveraged buyout funding activity picks up in both markets.

The company is offering $2 billion in secured high-yield notes and a leveraged loan of the same amount to help fund the purchase of technology distribution firm Ingram Micro Inc. Early pricing discussions on the bond are for a yield in the high 4% range. Now that investors have expanded their appetites for risk in search of higher-yielding assets, debt-funded acquisitions are hitting the market at a faster pace after a pause through much of 2020.

Bankers for Apollo Global Management have also started pitching a $4.1 billion debt sale comprised of bonds and loans that will finance its take-private deal for Michaels Cos. Credit Suisse Group AG and Barclays Plc are sounding out buyers for a $2.1 billion term loan alongside $700 million of secured and $1.3 billion of unsecured notes. Official marketing is expected to kick off as soon as next week, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Low funding costs are likely to tempt even more borrowers to sell junk bonds, especially before rates rise further. Issuance hit a quarterly record this week with yields near all-time lows and spreads hovering around pre-pandemic levels. Cruise operator Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. returned to raise $1.5 billion of unsecured notes. Meanwhile, chicken producer Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. sold $1 billion of debt tied to environmental targets, the largest ever for the genre in the U.S. junk bond market.

“Looking ahead, we believe the key determinant for high-yield will be based on how much spread tightening can absorb rate increases,” Mark Durbiano, senior portfolio manager at Federated Hermes, a global asset manager with $619.4 billion in assets under management. “They can narrow into the mid-300s if the economy is as strong as we think it will be in 2021,” he wrote in a note Friday.

Platinum Equity to Wrap $4 Billion Sale: U.S. Credit Week Ahead

There are about 20 leveraged loans in the market with commitments due next week -- including Ingram Micro’s, which has a March 31 deadline. Loan buyers will also be paying attention to the dollar-denominated component of vehicle glass repair firm Belron’s $1.87 billion sale and WW International Inc.’s $1 billion refinancing term loan.

Rare Delay

In the U.S. investment-grade primary market, March supply is poised to reach $200 billion after technology behemoth Oracle Corp. brought the second-largest offering this year, helping to push volume to $ $190.1 billion. Syndicate desks are calling for $20 billion to $25 billion supply for next week, and sales are expected to be front-loaded ahead of the Good Friday holiday.

Meanwhile, a $1.6 billion U.S. high-grade bond offering that a unit of U.K. insurer Prudential Plc would use to help complete a spinoff was suddenly thrown into limbo after the company said that two former executives have emerged with potential claims. The unit, Jackson Financial Inc., hadn’t disclosed the nature of the claims as of Friday afternoon in New York, leaving investors puzzled as to why it pulled the plug on the deal just as it was set to price late Thursday. Such delays are rare in the investment-grade debt market, where sales are typically wrapped up the same day they’re announced.

Finally in the distressed debt market, Washington Prime Group Inc. and GTT Communications Inc. both face expiration dates for forbearance agreements on Wednesday. Sequential Brands Group Inc.’s extended waiver with lenders is also set to expire that day. Elsewhere, Peabody Energy Corp. faces a coupon payment on its notes due 2025 by month-end, followed by Callon Petroleum Co. and Ruby Pipeline LLC.

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