As of today, we now have three consecutive quarters of tightening lending standards. In fact, based on the latest survey, net lending standards tightened even more than during Q4 as shown in the chart below, and are now the tightest on net since the financial crisis. Needless to say, if a recession and a default cycle has always followed two quarters of tighter lending conditions, three quarters does not make it better.
One week ago, we warned that "Valeant Lenders Demand Two Pounds Of Flesh For Covenant Waivers", a function of Valeant having virtually no leverage. Well, while Valeant proudly announced it had obtained a covenant waiver from its lenders late last week, it appears not everyone was onboard with the plan, and as a result moments ago Valeant stock crashed (below $30) after hours as major bond investor Centerbridge has notified the company that it intends to call a default event, presumably on annual report delays breaking covenants.
The market bond market, which is now frontrunning not just what the ECB has announced it will buy but what it may buy, just led to a record European junk bond issuance, when French cable and telecom operator Numericable "stunned the market" (as Reuters put it), when it upsized what was originally supposed to be a $2.25 deal by more than 100% to a whopping $5.2 billion bond deal on Wednesday. This was the largest single high-yield bond tranche ever issued.
Three days ago, the latest catalyst to weigh down Valeant stock was news that the company's lenders were pushing back on its demands to obtain a default waiver and to loosen restrictions on its negative debt covenants. It appears, however, that that issue has been resolved, and as the company reported moments ago in a press release on its website, VEX "has obtained the requisite lender approval for the amendment and waiver to its credit facility. The Company expects to close the amendment and waiver next week."
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. (NYSE: VRX and TSX: VRX) today announced that the ad hoc committee of the board of directors (the "Ad Hoc Committee") believes that its review of various Philidor and related accounting matters is complete, and that it has not identified any additional items that would require restatements beyond those required by matters previously disclosed.
Moments ago the market got a harsh reminder that Valeant is effectively negotiating default compliance with a group of banks who realize they are dealing with a company that has a $9 billion market cap and can thus ask for anything and management and shareholders have no choice but to say yes unless that $9 billion to quickly go to $0. According to Bloomberg, Valeant, just as predicted, "is facing push back from some of its lenders as it seeks to waive a default and loosen restrictions on its debt, according to people with knowledge of the matter."
Valeant "Kitchen Sink": CEO Out, Ackman In, Throws Ex-Goldman CFO Under The Bus, Warns Of Potential DefaultSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/21/2016 09:31 -0400
Pearson is out; Ackman is in... accounting mis-statements (balmed ojn improper conduct of CFO) resulting in worse than expected results... and no confirmation on the waivers from lenders... warning of possible default.
As if the historic collapse of Valeant and his hedge fund crashing by 26% YTD was not enough, moments ago S&P added insult to injury when it warned it may downgrade Pershing Square, because "Pershing Square Holdings' net asset value has dropped substantially, largely because of a precipitous decline in the market value of Valeant Pharmaceuticals" and "as a result, Pershing Square's debt-to-total assets ratio increased to above 20% as of March 15, 2016, from 15% at the end of October 2015. We are placing our 'BBB' issuer credit and senior unsecured debt ratings on the company on CreditWatch with negative implications."
Suddenly, what was until incomprehensible - a Valeant default - appears all too likely: under its loan agreements, Valeant has until March 30 to file audited financial reports. If it fails to do so, it then has 30 days before lenders can demand accelerated repayment. Needless to say, Valeant would be unable to fund such a loan acceleration without rapidly selling off key assets in a liquidation firesale, although there even exist limits on just how many assets Valeant can sell.
For the thousands of new entrants into the oilfield services (OFS) industry in the past 15 years - both workers and companies – if you didn’t know what senior secured lending covenants were a year ago, you sure do now. Many new borrowers are enduring a painful education on the legal implications of the lending documents they signed. There is said to be lots of capital on the sidelines looking for deals. OFS owners and managers up against a debt wall should consider finding some.
One month ago we also wondered what other cockroaches may be hiding inside the uncharacteristically optimistic Canadian banks' balance sheets. The first answer was revealed today when Bloomberg reported that if one includes untapped credit loans Canadian banks’ exposure to the struggling oil-and-gas industry more than doubles from the current C$50 billion in outstanding loans generally highlighted by Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank and the country’s four other large lenders in quarterly earnings calls and presentations, to C$107 billion ($80 billion).
The bear will soon be arriving in earnest, marauding through the canyons of Wall Street while red in tooth and claw. Our monetary central planners, of course, will once again - for the third time this century - be utterly shocked and unprepared. That’s because they have spent the better part of two decades deforming, distorting, denuding and destroying what were once serviceably free financial markets. Yet they remain as clueless as ever about the financial time bombs this inexorably fosters.
Inflation targeting has been a giant cover story for a monumental power grab. The academics who grabbed the power had no idea what they were doing in the financial markets that they have now saturated with financial time bombs. When these FEDs (financial explosive devices) erupt in the months and years ahead, the central bankers will face a day of reckoning. And they will surely be found wanting. The immense social damage from the imploding bubbles dead ahead will be squarely on them.
"We believe that the current environment is not a normal cyclical downturn but a fundamental shift in the operating environment for these commodities. As a consequence, a wholesale recalibration of ratings in the mining industry is deemed necessary. " - Moody's
In principle, the BRRD, or “bail-in directive” as it is also known, is quite a good idea. The fact that lending money to fractionally reserved banks or even merely depositing it with them, involves risks needed to be firmly reestablished. One simply cannot expect that banks and their creditors will be bailed out by taxpayers at every opportunity. Besides, the admission that there are risks in banking that have hitherto been glossed over or have even been lied about was long overdue. However, Europe’s governments are now likely to find out that the current monetary system with its fractionally reserved banks is actually incompatible with this admission, so to speak.