Last updated: 12:41 / Wednesday, 23 April 2014
Diversification benefits

ING IM Research Reveals Strong Appetite for Senior Bank Loans from Institutional Investors

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ING IM Research Reveals Strong Appetite for Senior Bank Loans from Institutional Investors
  • 42% believe institutional investors have increased their exposure to senior bank loans over the past six months
  • ING IM has seen AuM in its senior bank loan strategies increase by 46% over the past 12 months
  • The asset class saw huge inflows in 2013 because of its strong performance

New research from ING Investment Management (ING IM) amongst pension funds reveals that 42% believe institutional investors have increased their exposure to senior bank loans over the past six months, whilst only 2% felt it had fallen. Indeed, ING IM is announcing that it has seen assets under management in its senior bank loan strategies increase by 46% over the past 12 months, from $13 billion to $19 billion.

Growing demand for this asset class is expected to continue as the research reveals that four out of ten (40%) pension funds expect institutional investors to increase their exposure over the next 12 months, compared to 8% who think it will fall ‘slightly’.

Senior bank loans are extensions of credit made to non-investment grade corporations. They are private issues traded directly among banks and institutional investors in a private secondary market and not on a public exchange. They are generally secured by a borrower’s assets pursuant to a first priority or “senior” lien, and they are first in priority in receiving payments when a borrower is servicing its debts. They can also be called “floating rate loans” because the interest paid on such loans changes as certain market interest rates change.

The interest rate reset period varies from loan to loan, but a large, diversified portfolio of senior loans can be expected to have a weighted average interest rate reset period of 60 days or less. As a result, the income earned from a senior loan portfolio is generally very responsive to changes in short-term interest rates. Because the price of senior loans is less sensitive to market interest rates than bonds, they provide a high degree of diversification to a fixed income portfolio. The asset class saw huge inflows in 2013 because of its strong performance – they currently provide typical yields of up to 5% – in a difficult market. ING IM’s Senior Loans strategy portfolio has delivered an annualised return of 5.28% over the past three years (0.47% above the S&P/LSTA Leveraged Loan Index Hedged to Euro).

When asked what the main benefit of investing in senior bank loans is, 29% of pension funds said diversification of a fixed income portfolio, followed by 19% who said attractive risk adjusted returns. One in seven (14%) said it was because the default risk is low.

Most attractive benefit of investing in Senior Bank Loans

Percentage of pension funds who think this

Diversification of fixed income portfolio

29%

Attractive risk adjusted returns

19%

Default risk is low

14%

Protection against a rise in interest rates

10%

Correlation  with other asset classes is comparatively low

3%

Transparent and easy to analyse performance

2%

Secured by collateral

2%

Don’t know

21%

Dan Norman, Managing Director and Group Head of ING IM’s Senior Bank Loan’s team said: “In today’s environment, investors are on the hunt for attractive sources of yield. Senior bank loans offer an excellent balance of income and security, and these characteristics have fuelled strong demand for this asset class over the last couple of years. We believe that this will continue. The potential for the fund management industry here is strong because there are still institutional investors who want and need a better understanding of the benefits of senior loans and what they offer to a diversified fixed income portfolio.”

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