Major Banks Shy Away From Leveraged Loans
American Banker (10/04/00) Vol. 104, No. 40 p.1; Rehm, Barbara A.

Regulators have become increasingly wary of lenders' high-cost loans. In light of this, lenders have pulled away from risky borrowers. The effort, led by Chase, has been aimed at ending leveraged lending's sensational growth. According to Thomson Financial Securities Data, leveraged loans are defined as credits priced 125 points or more over the London interbank offered rate. Through Sept. 30, leveraged loans totaled $285.4 billion--down 0.6 percent from the same period last year. Between April 1 and Sept. 30, leveraged lending was at $188 billion, down 8.7 percent from the same time frame in 1999. In 1995, the leveraged lending base was at $81.8 billion. However, the loans grew an astounding 75 percent in 1996, 55 percent in 1997, 49 percent in 1999, and 22 percent in 1999. Those increases over the years were the reason federal regulators issued credit warnings from 1995 to 1998. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency specifically focused its efforts on leveraged lending in May 1999. David D. Gibbons, deputy comptroller for credit risk, directly attributed the recent decline in leveraged loans to both increased scrutiny by examiners and a rising number of defaults. Currently, Chase and Bank of America have a combined leveraged loan holding of 42 percent. However, this figure is down almost 52 percent from 1999.

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