How exactly do bank credit guys describe their job these days? It sounds a lot like it could be summed up as "pushing money out the door."
Henry Kravis and Stephen Schwarzman never had an easier time getting the lowest interest rates on loans from their bankers.
Just three months after borrowing $12.8 billion to pay for hospital operator HCA Inc. in November, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and its partners negotiated a new loan with lower rates. Schwarzman, chief executive officer of Blackstone Group LP, is doing the same for a $3.5 billion loan that financed the takeover of Freescale Semiconductor Inc., the mobile-phone-chip maker.
Leveraged buyout firms are leading borrowers refinancing $64 billion of loans so far this year, more than in all of 2006, according to ratings company Standard & Poor's. Banks are giving in and reducing rates because corporate defaults are near all- time lows.
"This is the best loan market for borrowers I have ever seen,'' said Kenneth Moore, a managing director at First Reserve Corp., a private equity firm in Greenwich, Connecticut, that manages more than $12.5 billion and specializes in buying energy companies.
Loans for companies rated four or five levels below investment grade yielded an average 2.26 percentage points more than the three-month London interbank offered rate in the week ending Feb. 15, S&P says. That gap over Libor, a lending benchmark, was the smallest ever and compared with more than 4 percentage points in 2003. The difference saves $17.4 million a year for every $1 billion a company borrows.
Oh. If you're keeping score at home, put another mark down under the column for "Private Equity Not In Trouble."
KKR, Blackstone Push for Record Low LBO Loan Rates [DealBreaker.com]