The impact of COVID-19 on the European leveraged loan market fed through to collateralized loan obligations, with defaults up and loan supply down.
A report by S&P Global Ratings said the CLO market was "hit hard by the pandemic." Defaults and CCC-rated asset holdings were up, loan supply fell and CLO managers that chose to trade out of weaker corporate sectors in some cases have experienced par losses, the report said.
"All combined, these factors have negatively affected European CLO ratings, largely in the form of CreditWatch negative placements and downgrades of junior tranches," it said. The ratings agency uses CreditWatch and rating outlooks to show its view on how likely a ratings change is and the probable direction of such a change.
Since March, S&P has put 39 European CLO ratings on CreditWatch negative, with about two-thirds of those actions subsequently resoled with a downgrade. The average downgrade was one ratings notch. As of Dec. 1, no European CLO ratings were on CreditWatch negative.
Pressure on European CLO ratings was predominantly seen in junior parts of the capital structure, at the BB and B-rating levels.