Leveraged Finance

What is Leveraged Finance?

Leveraged Finance refers to the process of raising funds by a company using debt instruments or lending from outside entity rather than through equity and it generally carries a fixed periodic repayment schedule and rate of interest is also agreed upon beforehand where the money raised can be utilized for many purposes for example purchase of assets or paying off an expense or liability.

Explanation

Leveraged Finance is described as funding a company or a business with more than normal proportions of debt (instead of equity or cash). Higher debts mean higher financial obligation in the form of fixed interest and principal repayment and corporate have to fulfill that obligation irrespective of profits to maintain its long-term solvency.

Example

Let us take a basic example to explain the concept of Leveraged Finance.

Scenario 1: – Buy a Company for $100 million in cash

Suppose there is an investment opportunity wherein you can buy the company for $100 million in cash. Your analysis shows that you can sell the company after 5 years for $200 million, thereby making a handsome return of 2x in 5 years.

When we calculate the Internal Rate of Return for scenario 1, it comes out to be 15%.

LBO Scenario 1

Scenario 2: – 50% cash and 50% Debt Financing 

Let us now change the scenario and assume that the deal is financed by 50% cash and 50% debt and the selling price after 5 years is still $200 million.

  • Here we also assume that the total payment of $5 million is made each year. This 5 million consists of the interest payment as well as principal repayment.
  • At the end of the 5 year period, the total debt remaining is $39 million
  • When you sell the company at $200 million, the net amount that you make is $200 million – $39 million = $161 million
  • In this case, the IRR comes out to be 21% (much higher than all-cash deal)
LBO Scenario 2

One thing that you may want to remember is that, in order to go for leveraged finance, the predictable cash flows are essential. And this is the reason why target companies are usually a mature business that has proven themselves over the years.

Impact of Leveraged Finance

Leveraged Finance in Investment Banking

Leveraged Finance is one of the essential departments of Investment Banking firms that help the corporate clients to provide leveraged loansLeveraged LoansLeveraged loans are loans that have a high risk of default in repayment since they are offered to firms or individuals that already have considerable levels of debt and may have a poor history or credit as a result of which such loans have a high rate of interest.read more for taking strategic decisions like acquiring a company, refinancing its debts, expansion of business operations, etc. The Leveraged Finance department is also responsible for planning, managing, structuring, and advising on the entire debt finance of their clients.

The Private Equity FirmsPrivate Equity FirmsPrivate equity firms are investment managers who invest in many corporations' private equities using various strategies such as leveraged buyouts, growth capital, and venture capital. The top private equity firms include Apollo Global Management LLC, Blackstone Group LP, Carlyle Group, and KKR & Company LP.read more and Leveraged Buy-out Firms aggressively finance their customized projects with the use of high leverage in their portfolio and enhance their returns.

Leveraged Finance Products

Some of the common Leveraged Finance products are as follows:

Leveraged Finance Products

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For eg:
Source: Leveraged Finance (wallstreetmojo.com)

#1 – Leveraged Loan

It is a kind of regular commercial loan that bank lent to borrowers that are already highly leveraged. Commercial Banks charge an extra interest to take risk of lending in those leverage projects or they may ask for additional securities to secure the loan amount in case of default occurs. To diversify the defaulting risk of the borrower, the banks use to finance those risky businesses by way of syndicate loansSyndicate LoansA loan syndication is an arrangement in which multiple lenders pool their resources to lend to a single entity. It is done to meet a borrower's large requirements, and the lenders are typically banks and other financial institutions.read more along with other commercial banks, those will participate in lending with Lead Bank.

#2 – High Yield Bonds

These are the bonds below investment grade i.e. having a credit rating below BBB/Baa. They are also called Junk Bonds. Usually below investment gradeInvestment GradeInvestment grade is the credit rating of fixed-income bonds, bills, and notes as assigned by the credit rating agencies like Standard and Poor’s (S&P), Fitch, and Moody’s to express the creditworthiness of and risk associated with these investments.read more companies that are not able to tap the bond market will use this route of financing for specific objects of the company. As these are not investment-grade bonds and the risk of defaultRisk Of DefaultDefault risk is a form of risk that measures the likelihood of not fulfilling obligations, such as principal or interest repayment, and is determined mathematically based on prior commitments, financial conditions, market conditions, liquidity position, and current obligations, among other factors.read more is higher in these bonds, the borrower has to pay higher coupons to the bondholders. Some bonds might have stringent negative covenantsNegative CovenantsA negative or restrictive covenant is a bond covenant that prohibits one party from taking certain actions, or, to put it another way, it is a pledge made by a firm to not exceed certain financial ratios unless and until the bondholders agree. Non-disclosure, non-solicitation, and non-competition are it's three types.read more like not to borrow additional funds unless these bonds are fully paid off.

#3 – Mezzanine Finance

As a name suggest, Mezzanine FinancingMezzanine FinancingMezzanine financing is a type of financing that combines the characteristics of debt and equity financing by granting lenders the right to convert their loan into equity in the event of a default (only after other senior debts are paid off).read more is the short-term way of financing the companies which are in urgent need of money just to seize the best business opportunity. It is a bridge between short-term financing and long-term financingLong-term FinancingLong term financing means financing by loan or borrowing for a term of more than one year by way of issuing equity shares, by the form of debt financing, by long term loans, leases or bonds, done for usually extensive projects financing and expansion of the company.read more. It is mostly used by small and medium-sized companies to easily finance their projects in a cost-efficient way.

Conclusion

While analyzing a company, Leveraged Finance analyst needs to understand a company’s use of leverage to evaluate its returns. Leveraged Finance will help to measure its risk appetiteRisk AppetiteRisk appetite refers to the amount, rate, or percentage of risk that an individual or organization (as determined by the Board of Directors or management) is willing to accept in exchange for its plan, objectives, and innovation.read more and also estimate the projected future cash flows, earnings after tax, earnings per share, and returns on investments. Leverage is directly related to financial riskFinancial RiskFinancial risk refers to the risk of losing funds and assets with the possibility of not being able to pay off the debt taken from creditors, banks and financial institutions. A firm may face this due to incompetent business decisions and practices, eventually leading to bankruptcy.read more, beta and cost of equity capital Cost Of Equity CapitalCost of equity is the percentage of returns payable by the company to its equity shareholders on their holdings. It is a parameter for the investors to decide whether an investment is rewarding or not; else, they may shift to other opportunities with higher returns.read more which can be used to estimate the appropriate discount rate for measuring the present value of the company.

Using too much-leveraged finance can be dangerous for the firms unless it is properly planned and managed in an effective way. The amount of Financial Leverage is usually a deliberate choice of the management of the company, whereas an amount of operating leverageOperating LeverageOperating Leverage is an accounting metric that helps the analyst in analyzing how a company’s operations are related to the company’s revenues. The ratio gives details about how much of a revenue increase will the company have with a specific percentage of sales increase – which puts the predictability of sales into the forefront.read more is driven by the prevalent business model in each industry. Hence, the corporation should set a limit on the use of leverage in its capital structure as a part of risk management activity, so that the stakeholder will not lose trust on the solvency of the companySolvency Of The CompanySolvency of a company means its ability to meet the long term financial commitments, continue its operation in the foreseeable future and achieve long term growth. It indicates that the entity will conduct its business with ease.read more. However, businesses with plant, land, equipment that can be used to collateralize borrowings may be able to use more Financial Leverage than a business that doesn’t have such characteristics.

Leveraged Finance Video

 

This has been a guide to what is Leveraged Finance. Here we discuss types of leveraged finance product, its impact on the on equity returns along with practical examples. You may learn more about Corporate Finance from the following articles –

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