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Analyse du cabinet Freshfields sur le marché du private equity


Voici les principales conclusions d'une analyse du cabinet d'avocats international Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer portant sur le private equity dans le monde et plus particulièrement sur les enjeux du « mur de la dette » dans un contexte de reprise des investissements. En effet, plus de 814 milliards $ de dette LBO doivent arriver à maturité dans les six années à venir, dont plus de 80 mds $ pour cette année. Un pic de près de 200 mds $ est attendu en 2014 et ce n’est qu’au milieu de la décennie que ce chiffre commence à diminuer, selon de données Dealogic.



Laurent Leloup
Laurent Leloup
Cette problématique concernera principalement les sociétés américaines et européennes, ces dernières comptant pour plus de la moitié des dettes LBO arrivant à maturité en 2016 (52% avec 424 mds $). La France, avec 71 mds $ de dette LBO arrivant a échéance d’ici 2016 et 8 mds $ en 2011, occupe la troisième position en Europe. D’un point de vue sectoriel, les besoins de refinancement des entreprises sous LBO d’ici 2016 seront les plus élevés dans l’industrie des télécoms (99 mds $), suivie par la santé (78 mds $), les services aux entreprises (60 mds $), la distribution (58 mds $) et l'informatique et l'électronique (53 mds $).

« Si cette perspective se confirme, les actionnaires en private equity devront faire appel aux différentes solutions de refinancement qui s’offrent à eux, tels que le high yield (317 milliards $ levés sur ce marché en 2010), des emprunts prolongés et amendés ou encore le financement CLO, ce dernier ayant fait preuve récemment d’un regain d’activités », explique Chris Bown, responsable de l'équipe private equity du bureau londonien du cabinet Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP. « En parallèle, un grand nombre d'entreprises devront s'employer à la restructuration de leur dette, allant de la simple injection de capital en échange d’un désendettement jusqu’à l’abandon de la participation par les détenteurs de capitaux au profit des détenteurs de la dette, dans les cas les plus extrêmes », poursuit Chris Bown.

En dépit de ce « mur de la dette », 2010 a marqué la reprise du marché du LBO avec des niveaux d'investissement presque aussi élevés que les deux précédentes années réunies (source : Thomson Financial), même si nous sommes encore loin du pic atteint en 2006 (niveaux 4,5 fois plus élevés que ceux de 2010) ! On observe notamment qu'en 2010, les Etats-Unis ont effectué un redémarrage de leurs opérations large caps alors que l'Europe était encore très concentrée sur les transactions small mid caps. La France se place alors en première position en Europe, avec 93 deals réalisés en 2010, devant le Royaume-Uni (92 opérations) et l’Allemagne (70 opérations).

« De manière générale, après une période d’attentisme des différents acteurs du secteur, un regain de confiance apparaît, même si un ajustement au niveau des prix semble encore nécessaire. En effet, alors que la distribution et les technologies suscitent l’intérêt des capital investisseurs, l’immobilier souffre toujours, et l’industrie des biens de consommation, les media et les loisirs, plus vulnérables aux contractions des dépenses des consommateurs, sont également moins prisés. D’autre part, d’un point de vue financier, les banques doivent faire face à une triple pression - financière, politique et réglementaire – pouvant entraîner une contraction ou a minima une complexification du marché du crédit », remarque Chris Bown.

Vous trouverez ci-dessous l'intégralité du communiqué en anglais.

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Global Private Equity industry in challenge to refinance $814bn by 2016 as ‘dry powder’ spending returns

Over $814bn of leveraged buyout (LBO) debt, spread over 6,055 debt tranches held by private equity portfolio companies globally, is due to mature over the next six years with over $80bn (across 752 tranches) due for refinancing this year alone. A peak of almost $200bn is expected in 2014, according to a new analysis* by international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

The issue appears to be almost exclusively a European/US affair. European private equity portfolio companies account for more than half (52% or $424bn) of LBOs maturing by 2016, ahead of North America (43% or $352bn). The positions are reversed this year when North American LBOs will need to refinance a slightly higher amount ($39.2bn) of debt than their European counterparts ($36.6bn). For the six year period the refinancing challenge is far less acute for Asia (including Japan), where almost $21bn will need refinancing, and Australasia ($13bn). (see table 1)

Notwithstanding the prospect of major refinancing exercises, PE houses are beginning gradually to invest their cash reserves once more, the value of global leveraged buyouts in 2010** increasing by over 204% (to $131.8bn) compared to the previous year ($43.3bn). The volume of deals also increased by over 72% to 923. These investment levels are still a far cry from the pre-credit crunch peak, the value of global LBO deals in 2006 standing at $600.1bn spread across 1,460 deals. (see table 2)

‘LBO refinancings are ramping up with $80bn due for refinancing this year alone and $92bn next year, followed by a whopping $174bn in 2012 and $196bn in 2014. Only by the middle of the decade will pressure start to ease,’ said David Trott, head of UK banking at Freshfields.

‘If the pipeline we are seeing is anything to go by, private equity shareholders are likely to pursue selling down their interest in leveraged corporates via an IPO while at the same time prepaying a significant amount of outstanding finance debt, said Trott’.

‘‘Orderly fashion’ refinancing exercises can also be envisaged thanks to more settled lending conditions across markets; the amount of ‘dry powder’ or financial resources accumulated by PE houses before the credit crunch which could be used as junior or senior debt; a growing liquidity in the high yield bond market which last year saw more than $317bn raised globally, more ‘extend and amend’ solutions where lenders get better terms in exchange for extending loan maturities, and evidence of renewed activity in the CLO market,’ he continued.

‘Given the sheer volume and size of maturing LBOs a large number of businesses will require some form of debt restructuring, with an armoury of solutions likely to be deployed,’ said Trott. ‘These will include full balance sheet restructurings where the value of loans could suffer from impairment or even be converted into equity; equity holders offering to put in more capital in exchange for deleveraging; covenant resets with an equity injection and maybe a maturity extension being factored in, and a structured solution provided by debt holders where equity holders decide to let their interests in the business go, or insolvency in cases where there is no value in the business - though this will be rare,’ he continued.

Despite the wave of debt heading for shore, 2010 has seen some good evidence of LBO activity reigniting in the market with investment levels almost as high as the previous two years put together, though still a far cry from the 2006 investment peak which, to put it into perspective, was 4.5 times greater than 2010 levels,’ said Chris Bown, head of Freshfields’ London private equity team.

‘While the US accelerated past Europe in terms of deal value last year, moving from a 43% to a 60% share of new deals globally, the data shows that was based on a smaller number of large deals which would imply that the US is moving ahead with large cap deals while European players are still focused on smaller transactions,’ he continued.

‘Economic and lending conditions are certainly improving but getting deals off the ground is still proving challenging, not least because past solutions are no longer workable in what has become an even more complex and unpredictable market and where creativity and new techniques, which generally take longer to implement, are needed,’ said Bown.

Looking ahead to 2011, there is cause for optimism as well as caution says Bown.

‘Private equity houses are starting to deploy their dry powder reserves - estimated at over $1trillion*** - and this is causing ripples in the market; high yield is becoming more accepted and in turn this is making some banks more willing to provide debt. On the whole, after a period of ‘waiting and seeing’ how the economy was going to turn out we are sensing more confidence and seeing the pipeline gradually fill out’.

In contrast however, there are a number of factors still holding the market back. ‘There seems to be a lack of enough assets at the right price to generate interest among private equity houses. While retail and technology are proving popular, real estate is still recovering from having gone into virtual hibernation, while consumer staples companies and media and entertainment firms, most vulnerable to contractions in consumer spending, are also less sought after.’

‘On the financing side, many banks are holding large private equity-related credits and are under financial pressure to clean up their balance sheets and under political pressure to direct lending towards small-and medium-sized enterprises rather than leveraged deals. New regulations on the largest international banks under the Basel III rules will also curb lending,’ concluded Bown.

LBO maturities:

Looking at maturing European LBOs in greater detail, the UK is facing greater pressure than the rest of Europe needing to refinance $120bn by 2016/$14bn this year. It represents more than the continent’s largest economy, Germany ($73bn by 2016 / $5bn in 2011); and almost as much as the next three countries with the highest refinancing needs, France ($71bn/$8bn), the Netherlands ($30bn/$2bn) and Italy ($25bn/$1bn) combined.

In terms of the sectors where the majority of Private Equity LBO maturities (for the next six years) are to be found, the telecoms industry accounts for $99bn; followed by healthcare ($78bn); professional services ($60bn); retail ($58bn) and computers and electronics ($53bn). For 2011 alone, the finance sector faces the biggest refinancing challenge ($7.6bn) followed by utilities and energy ($6.1bn) and transport ($5.8bn).

New LBO Deals:

The biggest year-on-year increase in LBO activity in 2010 was witnessed in the Americas where LBOs soared by 324% (to almost $79bn) in value terms, compared to a 135% increase (to $46.2bn) in Europe and to an 51% increase (to $5.6bn) for Asia Pacific (excluding Central Asia). In volume terms however, it was Europe that led the way recording a rise of 107% in the number of deals (to 472) compared to just 43% in the Americas (to 392).

Retail ($17bn); high technology ($16.8bn); industrials ($16.4bn) and healthcare ($11.9bn) accounted for the lion’s share (47.2%) of all global LBO investments in 2010. In Europe, by comparison, the comeback of LBO activity was primarily concentrated within the industrials ($12.6bn); financials ($6.1bn); retail ($5.1bn) and high technology ($4.7bn) sectors. Together these accounted for over 61% of all European LBO investments in 2010.

Within Europe the UK appears to have stolen a march on its continental rivals accounting for almost half ($21.3bn) of all LBO investments in 2010 and 20% of deal volume (92). The UK was followed by German-speaking countries; namely, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, which together accounted for deals worth a collective $6.7bn. France saw a 10-fold year-on-year growth to $6.4bn spread across 93 deals, followed by Spain ($2.2bn across 45 deals).

* source Dealogic
** source Thomson Reuters
*** source: Preqin

Bonjour chez vous...

Laurent Leloup

Lundi 21 Mars 2011
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