In a leveraged buyout (LBO), the target company’s existing debt is usually refinanced (although it can be rolled over) and replaced with new debt to finance the transaction. Multiple tranches of debt are commonly used to finance LBOs, and may including any of the following tranches of capital listed in descending order of seniority:
A revolver is a form of senior bank debt that acts like a credit card for companies and is generally used to help fund a company’s working capital needs. A company will “draw down” the revolver up to the credit limit when it needs cash, and repays the revolver when excess cash is available (there is no repayment penalty). The revolver offers companies flexibility with respect to their capital needs, allowing companies access to cash without having to seek additional debt or equity financing.
There are two costs associated with revolving lines of credit: the interest rate charged on the revolver’s drawn balance, and an undrawn commitment fee. The interest rate charged on the revolver balance is usually LIBOR plus a premium that depends on the credit characteristics of the borrowing company. The undrawn commitment fee compensates the bank for committing to lend up to the revolver’s limit, and is usually calculated as a fixed rate multiplied by the difference between the revolver’s limit and any drawn amount.
Bank debt is a lower cost-of-capital (lower interest rates) security than subordinated debt, but it has more onerous covenants and limitations. Bank debt typically requires full amortization (payback) over a 5- to 8-year period. Covenants generally restrict a company’s flexibility to make further acquisitions, raise additional debt, and make payments (e.g. dividends) to equity holders. Bank debt also has financial maintenance covenants, which are quarterly performance tests, and is generally secured by the assets of the borrower.
Term Loan B This layer of debt usually involves nominal amortization (repayment) over 5 to 8 years, with a large bullet payment in the last year. Term Loan B allows borrowers to defer repayment of a large portion of the loan, but is more costly to borrowers than Term Loan A.
The interest rate charged on bank debt is often a floating rate equal to LIBOR plus (or minus) some premium (or discount), depending on the credit characteristics of the borrower. Depending on the credit terms, bank debt may or may not be repaid early without penalty.
High-yield debt is typically unsecured. High-yield debt is so named because of its characteristic high interest rate (or large discount to par) that compensates investors for their risk in holding such debt. This layer of debt is often necessary to increase leverage levels beyond that which banks and other senior investors are willing to provide, and will likely be refinanced when the borrower can raise new debt more cheaply. Subordinated debt may be raised in the public bond market or the private institutional ortization, and usually has a maturity of 8 to 10 years.
A company retains greater financial and operating flexibility with high-yield debt through incurrence, as opposed to maintenance, covenants and a bullet (all-at-once) repayment of the debt at maturity. Additionally, early payment options typically exist (usually after about 4 and 5 years for 7- and 10-year high-yield securities, https://loansolution.com/installment-loans-ct/ respectively), but require repayment at a premium to face value. Interest rates for these securities are higher than they are for bank debt.
The interest on high-yield debt may be either cash-pay, payment-in-kind (“PIK”), or a combination of both. Cash-pay means that coupon is paid in cash, like the interest on bank debt. PIK means that the issuer can pay interest in the form of additional high-yield debt, so as to increase the face value of the debt that must ultimately be repaid. Sometimes, high-yield debt is structured so that the issuer may choose between cash-pay and PIK (the PIK option is usually more attractive to the issuer). Also, the mezzanine debt may be structured so that the PIK option is available for the first few years of the debt’s life, after which cash-pay becomes mandatory.