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With roughly $48B of U.S. private credit fundraising taking place in 2018 — surpassing 2008 levels of $42B — private credit has established itself as an up-and-coming leader within the alternative space. By 2023, private credit is estimated to reach $1.4T in AUM, becoming the 3rd largest alternative asset class. This kind of success has brought with it increased competition, robust inflows, rising pools of dry powder and an inflow of managers within the space, up from 31 managers in 2010 to more than 130 in 2018.
The growth of available capital in the private credit market has been substantial, but the growing demand for debt has kept the opportunity largely intact. Direct lending, which is more prevalent in the middle-market, has rapidly developed into a meaningful source of debt capital within the private equity (“PE”) ecosystem.
Since the global financial crisis, the leveraged loan market has become less accessible to middle-market companies as banks have generally stopped lending in this part of the market. The volume of leveraged loans held by banks reached roughly 30% in 2008 and has since declined sharply to less than 10% today. Coupled with a 48% drop in the total number of U.S. banks from 1998 to 2018, demand for direct lending has increased as U.S. banks have substantially withdrawn from the market.
In their relentless search for yield, institutional investors stepped up in a meaningful way vis-à-vis direct lenders, and while highly competitive right now, direct lending brings PE-style returns with heightened levels of downside protection. Because private credit investments can be approached in a defensive, risk-controlled way, private credit is especially well suited for late-cycle conditions, and with its higher coupons, robust cash flows, and lower risk profile, we can expect private credit to continue to grow at an accelerated pace and become a consistent component of an increasing number of institutional investors’ portfolios.
The opinions expressed herein are those of Marquette Associates, Inc. (“Marquette”), and are subject to change without notice. This material is not financial advice or an offer to purchase or sell any product. Marquette reserves the right to modify its current investment strategies and techniques based on changing market dynamics or client needs.
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