NEW YORK, July 16 (Reuters) - Jefferies moved back to the top of the U.S. leveraged buyout league tables in the second quarter after a one quarter hiatus from the spot, according to Thomson Reuters LPC data, as U.S. regulators’ leveraged lending guidance continues to reshape the market.
The guidelines, which were implemented in 2013 by the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, are designed to curb risky lending by banks that could pose a systemic risk and are allowing unregulated lenders to pick up business from banks.
Jefferies is not overseen by these regulators and is therefore able to lead highly leveraged loans, helping the firm top Thomson Reuters LPC league tables for leveraged buyouts for the second time in three quarters.
“Since the regulatory environment has shifted, Jefferies has gotten more calls than they would have previously,” said a senior banker. “There’s been an opening for them, and they have taken advantage of it.”
Leveraged buyout financing volume has been muted this year as cash-rich corporate buyers have consistently outbid sponsors for targets.
First half leveraged buyout financing totaled just $30.8 billion, which is down 40 percent over last year’s first half number of $51.4 billion.
Second quarter volume, in particular, was slow at just $11.4 billion, down 62 percent from $30.1 billion in the same quarter of 2014, which allows for bigger jumps in league tables.
Jefferies served as a bookrunner on $2.3 billion worth of deals in the second quarter, giving it a market share of 20 percent, double Morgan Stanley, the second leading bookrunner.
Among these deals was a $925 million term loan that Jefferies led backing Veritas Capital’s buyout of aircraft engine services provider StandardAero.
“Much is being said about our momentum in leveraged finance but it represents a small portion of the progress our investment bank has made over the past several decades. We now have over 720 investment bankers in a dozen countries and have full service banking, research, and distribution capabilities in every industry vertical,” said Richard Handler, chairman and CEO of Jefferies.
Jefferies has been a bookrunner on a greater volume of leverage buyouts than any other bank in the past three quarters now at $5.4 billion. Barclays is next at $5 billion. In 2013, Jefferies was ninth on the league tables for leveraged buyouts.
“In the first six months of this year Jefferies was involved with $61 billion of M&A transactions and has raised over $29 billion of equity, over 90 percent of which was done as bookrunner,” Handler said.
“Our lending business through Jefferies Finance recently celebrated its 11th anniversary and we have underwritten over $60 billion of loans throughout the economic cycles over the past 11 years for our ever increasing client base. Our commitment to serving our corporate clients while maintaining high quality products for our investing clients remains our top priority,” he added.
The firm is expected to continue to maintain its activity in the third quarter. Jefferies is a bookrunner on a $1.54 billion credit facility backing Stone Point Capital’s investment in specialty brokerage Alliant Insurance Services.
One M&A adviser said he was not surprised to see Jefferies at the top of the league tables and that Jefferies wasn’t necessarily changing its business strategy.
“I don’t really think anything has changed there except now to get that extra leverage you have to navigate through the regulatory stuff, which creates this opportunity for Jefferies,” the adviser said.
Other non-regulated institutions have also been rising in the league tables, including specialty investment bank Macquarie.
The Australia-based bank was twelfth in the second quarter with $281.3 million, beating out even Goldman Sachs, which was a bookrunner on just $227.3 million of volume during the second quarter.
After a strong first quarter when Macquarie was fifth on the list with $1.3 billion of volume, the bank is now ninth overall for 2015. In 2014, Macquarie was number 15 on the list and in 2013, it was number 16.
Bankers and other industry insiders have said non-regulated banks are able to compete aggressively on middle market deals where they can act as sole bookrunners and underwrite highly leveraged loans without regulated banks.
Macquarie this week launched a $225 million first-lien term loan backing Vista Equity Partners’ acquisition of a majority stake in advertising software provider Mediaocean LLC.
The financing also includes a privately placed $90 million pre-placed second-lien loan.
The debt will put leverage at the company at 8.6 times by the end of 2015, according to Moody’s Investors Service.
Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said adjusted leverage is greater than 10 times though it can be adjusted further to the mid-7.0 times area when using anticipated cost savings. (Editing By Tessa Walsh and Lynn Adler)