KYSS - Know Your Super Senior
Or Know Your Senior Secured. Either way, knowing who's above you in the capital structure can be immensely useful, particularly in the world of defaults.
We've been seeing this in ABS CDO space for a while now, as the contrasting interests and demands of the controlling class holders have determined whether defaulting CDOs were liquidated or accelerated.
And we recently spoke about this in the leveraged loan world too (click here for the full transcript) where banks and CLO managers have possibly different agendas in the corporate loan amendment process:
The big difference is when banks are the lenders the relationship between the borrower and the lender often goes back many, many years and may include businesses like bond underwriting and cash management and other types of solutions that the banks offer. And so the banks are going to be even more incentivized than usual to grant covenant relief and find a solution that allows for continued revenue generation. With institutional investors, on the other hand—and we’re talking CLOs, prime rate mutual funds and the like— they’re “transactional lenders.” In other words, their relationship doesn’t go any further back than the individual loan in question here and so their incentives will be naturally more immediately self‐serving.
Thus, as a prospective subordinated bondholder (i.e., purchaser) it might be wise to find out who is holding the senior secured loan. What would the amendment process look like? What sort of acquisition restrictions will be imposed on the borrower post amendment, and amendment fees and charges will leak to the senior lender. (See for example Richard Kellerhals' recent piece Investors Fume as Banks “Extend and Pretend.”)
So go ahead and KYSS - it may even change the way you see the bond you currently hold.