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Leveraged loan volume surges to highest level in four years

Jan 05, 2012 Philip Burgess

Europe's ongoing sovereign debt crisis drove many U.S. firms to refinance some $197.7 billion of debt with leveraged loans, reaching the highest volume since 2007, according to a Bloomberg report. As of December 21, more than $373.1 billion in high-yield, high-risk loans were made this year, marking a 58.5 percent increase over 2010 and the most since the $535.2 billion in 2007, Standard & Poor's reports. More than half of 2011 loans were made during the first half of the year. "The first half of the year was reasonably busy across the board and got to the point where the market was frothy enough for repricings," Timothy Broadbent, the head of leveraged-loan syndicate for the Americas at Barclays Capital, told Bloomberg. "The second half ended up being less robust on the refinancing and repricing side due to the volatility." Barclays has projected $150 billion to $175 billion in loans will be sold to non-bank lenders next year, a decline of more than 35 percent from 2011. The surge in leveraged loans may suggest a heightened risk environment, reflected in a surge in consumer credit risk management concerns.