A Conversation With A Leveraged Finance Professional

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Last night we had the chance to catch up with a leveraged finance professional we hadn’t seen for almost a year. For years we had consistently socialized, frequently sharing meals or buying each other rounds of whiskey. But sometime last year he vanished. Not abducted vanished. Not missing person vanished. He had deal vanished.
“Mate, I’ve been doing nothing but working,” he said. His British accent—a bit of Manchester and a bit of Oxford—heavy with burnt nicotine and weariness. “Making lot of money. Lots. But we’re very busy. Working all the time.”
He had recently traveled to a well-known Caribbean vacation destination. But not for vacation. It was work. Deals. Deals. Deals.
Even his private life—what there was left in it—had become a series of deals. Women seemed to float in and out. None stayed. And like a banker always hunting for new deals, despite the seeming wealth of women in his life he was after more. “Do you have any birds for me to shag?” he asked.
He seemed almost relieved when we told him we did not.
“I finally bought the place down in [_______],” he told us. “And I bought the apartment next door to me. I’ve become a highly leveraged individual. JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup fight for leftside credit on my loans.”
And suddenly the conversation was coming to an end. The deals were calling. Literally. In the background we could hear the phone buzz. We pictured the look in his eyes as the red light on his phone lit up signaling a new voice mail. His blackberry buzzed. Again. And then the phone.
There was time for a final question. We asked him about the Conway memo. Was the age of cheap credit going to come to an end? Would the dealflow slow?
“I suppose it might all come to an end,” he said. “But frankly I don’t see it. I was going to say that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. But why should I consider this the tunnel and not the light right now? I’m making a lot money.”
Tunnels. Lights. We almost told him that he sounded like someone who had gone through a near death experience. Except “gone through” was wrong. He was still there, and he had been there so long he wasn't sure whether it was the tunnel or the light at its end. But he is making a lot of money.
“Let’s get together sometime,” he said.
Sometime.

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