COVID-19: Private Markets Impacts - Infrastructure Debt
Updated: Sep 14, 2020
Strategies to ride out the COVID-19 storm or exploit its consequences
The COVID-19 crisis’ operational, pricing and origination impacts on:
Infrastructure Debt (OECD)
in conjunction with
While infrastructure assets in general and debt instruments in particular are by their nature defensive, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its policy responses on confidence, market volatility, available liquidity and the practical implications of travel restrictions are all having impacts. Vantage are working with management teams of underlying borrowers and issuers to understand and manage these impacts.
Lenders’ commitments to existing commercial agreements largely remain.
Where fixed rates or minimum base rate floors are in place most existing investments, investor returns are protected.
The direct impact of the crisis on credit is relatively transparent in the first instance. Indirect or unexpected consequences are harder to assess as the impact permeates the economy and supply chain.
A well-diversified portfolio of assets provides good protection, good insight into the range of issues likely to be encountered and the ability to leverage a variety of mitigation approaches.
The key issue in a situation like this is to quickly identify the relatively few assets that require closer attention and ensure resources are directed to these whilst continuing to monitor impacts across the portfolio.
New Asset Origination
We are seeing a slowdown in new transactions that are earlier in their gestation and mainly where commitments have not yet been made. There are probably three different reasons for this
In the case of assets that may be materially directly impacted (many airports for example), lenders are waiting for additional analysis and data to be available to determine changes to credit risk profiles, before they can realistically move through the underwriting and approval processes;
For those well-placed assets that have timing flexibility, borrowers are deferring processes, hoping for better market conditions to develop;
The rapid changes in organisational responses are making it more difficult to move processes through smoothly eg even staff working efficiently from home impacts the ease of multiple co-signing documents.
These factors are slowing down but not stopping progress. Where debt financings are small to medium in size and assets are likely to be only mildly and/or temporarily impacted and where commitments have been made (legally or reputationally), these processes continue to move forward and transactions close.
Vantage has completed transactions over recent weeks and plans to complete transactions during the coming weeks. The longer-term pipeline is likely to experience lower deal flow in the near term; typical for a material market event.
Limited secondary loan sale opportunities, where higher than average discounts for good quality assets can provide opportunistic investments, are appearing.
For less mature processes or feedback on new deals, lenders are now passing through recent market pricing changes.