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Reverse enquiries: Tricky reversing out of a tight corner

Private placements are booming as issuers and investors match trades outside the public market. But do investors fully understand the liquidity trade-off?

Big investors have few tactical options in the pursuit of decent allocations in a bull market for bonds. One is to go directly to issuers with reverse enquiry for private placements or to take up in their entirety taps of seasoned outstanding public issues.

As the fight for allocation becomes increasingly intense, this is an option that more investors are now exploring. “Investors cannot find what they want in secondary so they deploy funds in the private placement market as an alternative. In the last four weeks we have executed numerous private placements for a total size of several billion dollars,” Marc Tempelman, co-head of EMEA corporate banking and debt capital markets at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, tells Euromoney in early May.

Virtually all of the bankers that Euromoney spoke to for this article reported a sharp increase in reverse enquiry from investors with money to put to work.

“With reverse enquiry we simply can’t find the deals to fill the bids. These deals often come through the public curve,” says one DCM banker. “The volume of reverse enquiry really grew after September last year since the tapering aftershock receded.”

This weight of money means that more borrowers are now taking advantage of investor appetite and issuing privately.

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