The Art of Pricing Loans (Second of a Series)

Call it Bother of the Bride.

The singer/guitarist of a wedding band posts a picture of the mother’s blue and black dress on Tumblr. Apparently other band members said it looked white and gold, so she wanted second opinions. Well, she got them – 500 within a half-hour. Then things went viral. Buzzfeed had almost 40 million views at last count. And there was no consensus.

“I see white & gold,” Kim Kardashian wrote, joining in the fun. “Kanye sees black and blue, who is color blind?”

Good question. While we wish we could resolve the conundrum (Lead Left staffers had a split vote), our attention must turn to a less weighty, but similarly mysterious matter; namely, how do arrangers go about pricing leveraged loans?

In last week’s installment, we covered some of the basic drivers such as size of company and deal metrics. This week we look at relative value.

One key benchmark for buyers of broadly syndicated loans (and therefore arrangers) is whether the prospective borrower will also issue bonds, and where they will be priced.

For example,