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Leveraged finance: Between a rock star and a hard place

Regulators’ scrutiny of Credit Suisse’s leveraged finance business has the potential to hit one of its most successful divisions hard. Has the Swiss bank been unfairly singled out?

If only one leveraged lender was going to receive a Matters Requiring Immediate Attention (MRIA) letter from the regulators, there would have been no prizes for guessing that it would be Credit Suisse. It seems that several such letters have been sent to a number of leading leveraged finance houses, but when it comes to testing the boundaries in this business, Credit Suisse has form.

Its US leveraged finance business has been a resounding success for the Swiss bank, which has built an enviable reputation in this market – one of the most lucrative in fixed income. According to Dealogic, by November Credit Suisse had made net revenues year-to-date from its US leveraged lending business of $609 million. It made $827 million from this market in 2013. European rivals Deutsche Bank and Barclays have made $490 million and $404 million from US leveraged lending so far this year respectively.

 Credit Suisse outpaces European rivals

By September, Credit Suisse had underwritten $9 billion of US leveraged loans: indeed, at a recent Loan Syndications and Trading Association conference US head of loan capital markets Jeff Cohen described the bank as a “rock star” of the market.

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