By Jason Merrill | December 14, 2017
The lifecycle of a collateralized loan obligation (CLO) is typically characterized by an initial warehouse/ramp-up period, during which the CLO manager purchases collateral to back the CLO. This is followed by the reinvestment period, during which the CLO manager actively trades the portfolio based on a particular strategy. The reinvestment period is then followed by the amortization period, during which time the proceeds from sales or paydowns are used to amortize the CLO debt tranches and wind down the deal. The length of the reinvestment period is sometimes used by investors as a proxy for the length of the deal in general, with an adjustment for where in the capital stack the investor is located. CLO debt investors used to complain about reinvestment periods getting longer. For post-crisis deals, it was common for the reinvestment period to be four years long. Then, five-year reinvestment periods became the “new normal,” and managers that could get away with it would opt for the longer reinvestment period, thus locking up management fees and AUM for a longer period of time. The industry was aware that extending the reinvestment period was a positive for CLO managers and equity holders, but a negative for debtholders. What could debt investors do to counter this sea change in the industry?