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Australia & New Zealand unitranche volumes surge on USD 1bn-plus Greencross deal

TPG Capital-controlled Australian pet-care company Greencross’ USD 1.1b-equivalent unitranche deal closed in March — the biggest-ever in Australia and New Zealand — brought the total 1Q22 volume of such loans from the two countries to USD 2.43bn, far exceeding the USD 1.48bn registered in the whole of last year.

The volume of unitranche borrowings in these two countries in 1Q22 was just 14.1% less than the record high of USD 2.83bn registered in 2019.

In the term loan B (TLB) space, Australian and New Zealand borrowers raised a total of USD 3.14bn in 1Q22, already more than half of the USD 6.16bn closed in full 2021.

The robust supply of TLB and unitranche deals during the quarter was partly driven by refinancings. Partners Group-owned Guardian Childcare & Education refinanced its existing due-2023 bank loan using a AUD 410m unitranche, while records- and data-management company Iron Mountain Australia and legal-software provider Australian Technology Innovators refinanced their existing debt via the TLB route.

The overall volume of loans backing private-equity-linked acquisitions in the two countries totaled USD 5.69bn in 1Q22. Of this, traditional commercial-bank loans accounted for 51%, TLBs 40.4% and unitranche deals the remaining 8.6%. The 1Q22 tally is more than half of the USD 11.27bn completed in the entire last year, which was a yearly high since at least 2013.

The largest deals in 1Q22 include a Brookfield Asset Management led-consortium’s AUD 2bn loan backing its acquisition of ASX-listed electricity distributor Ausnet Services, a AUD 1.255bn loan for a KKR-led consortium’s acquisition of energy infrastructure assets investment business Spark Infrastructure Group, and a NZD 1.35bn-equivalent TLB to part-fund Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets- and Aware Super-owned Vocus Group’s acquisition of New Zealand telecommunications provider 2Degrees Mobile. New Zealand’s Commerce Commission has cleared the Vocus-2degrees deal, according to a 15 March release.