April 29, 2021 - written by Lee Shaiman. Agent banks led by Bank of America, Citi and JPM are developing what they hope will become a centralized agency platform for the syndicated loan market. The LSTA has learned that the program, which is in development and hopes to go live early next year, is designed to provide lenders with digital access to significant loan level data. The new platform is meant to streamline the communication, confirmation and reconciliation of information and positions that take place between agents and lenders across the $5 trillion syndicated loan market, including revolvers, pro-rata and institutional term loans.
The new platform will sit on top of, and be updated by, each agent bank’s existing internal software that tracks individual loans. We anticipate that the proposed program will provide syndicate lenders with daily, if not real-time, reconciliations of positions and interest accruals; it should communicate loan level information to populate portfolio management systems used by individual lenders. As described, this agency platform may be an excellent first step in the digitization and data-sharing that has driven efficiency and growth of other financial products.
To date, the LSTA has not been involved in the planning or design of the lender agency platform. However, we have had high level conversations with the sponsoring banks. Based on those conversations, we believe the plan is to build a data warehouse or central registry for syndicated loans and that the platform will be robust and capable of acting as a central registry for the entire market. The LSTA has long recommended the benefits of such a utility, which could create needed efficiencies in middle- and back-office processes and reduce costs. As we understand it, this new platform could be a big win for the syndicated loan market as it should lead to better and more timely flow of information, reduce the need for frequent notices and settlement freezes – and thereby reduce stubbornly long settlement times. This, in turn, would free up capital and improve market liquidity, a long-held goal of both the LSTA and the market.