Lead Left Interview – Stephen Boyko

This week we chat with Stephen Boyko of Proskauer. Steve is a partner in the firm’s corporate department and co-head of the private credit and finance groups. He represents one of the largest client rosters in the industry, including an array of specialty finance companies, private debt funds, and BDCs.

The Lead Left: Steve, thanks for making time for us. How is activity level for you at Proskauer?

Steve Boyko: The first quarter is typically the slowest quarter for us. This year, the first quarter started off strong, and we closed more deals in the first half of the quarter than we had since the recovery began. However, by mid-February deal flow seemed to normalize. Today, we are hearing that sponsors aren’t finding a lot of great assets, and when they do, valuations remain very high.

TLL: So are you seeing a version of the Trump trade?

SB: Sometimes volatile markets can bring things to a screeching halt. We’re not seeing (or hearing) that. We are deep into this part of the expansion, so finding attractive candidates for financing is difficult. You need to turn over a lot of stones. A number of our clients remain open for business and are looking to finance quality assets.

Also, BDCs are busy fundraising, as well as everyone else. As we detail in our latest survey [link], two-thirds of private funds are currently fundraising, with 79% planning to do so over the next 12 months. That’s surprising. Also in the last year, we saw dollar volume up 37% year over year. Our clients are financing more deals and writing bigger checks, as deal sizes increase. The vast majority of our clients are looking to source senior or senior-stretch opportunities in direct competition with traditional banks.