A $6 Trillion Wall of Money Revives Arcane Part of Wall Street
Comment of the Day

February 16 2023

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

A $6 Trillion Wall of Money Revives Arcane Part of Wall Street

This article from Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Companies are grappling with the twin burdens of higher interest rates and slower economic growth, and some have already suspended dividends or put assets up for sale to pay debt. But with $6.3 trillion of outstanding corporate bonds alone coming due by the end of 2025, many are seeking alternative ways to protect their balance sheets.

Mall landlord Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield is one firm that’s been selling assets to pay down debt after its purchase of Westfield for about $22 billion in 2018 soured.

“We over-levered the company,” Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield Chief Executive Jean-Marie Tritant said in an interview. Falling values after the acquisition meant “our loan-to-value started to increase to a point where investors were somehow concerned about our ability to face our obligations.”

Tritant took over the firm in 2021 after a successful activist campaign backed by French technology billionaire Xavier Niel. As well as the disposals, the CEO stabilized the company by axing the dividend, limiting capital expenditure and extending debt maturities.

Eoin Treacy's view

Rising interest rates are a challenge for borrowers. The longer rates stay high, without a meaningful uptick in demand for what they are selling, the greater the risk of default. There are all manner of companies borrowing in this space but the most important today are those looking to refinance commercial real estate debt. 

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