On Tuesday 26 September 2017, Matheson was delighted to host the Loan Market Association (LMA) Dublin seminar in our offices. Nigel Houghton as Managing Director of the LMA welcomed everyone to the event and our Managing Partner Michael Jackson noted the alignment of the LMA’s aims of increasing efficiencies and using technology to work smarter with Matheson’s approach to such issues.
Our Head of Banking Patrick Molloy chaired the first panel which discussed “Syndicated Lending: trends in the European and Irish loan markets”. Having been asked to flag possible concerns in the future, Nessa O’Riordan (AIB), Alan Doyle (Bank of Ireland), Joe Mellings (Barclays), Elaine Lockhart (Wilmington Trust), and Peter O’Brien, another Matheson banking partner, discussed increasing regulation, continuing central bank support, global geopolitical concerns and concluded that they had an optimistic outlook for Ireland in light of its continued access to the single market, improving economy and relocation of some financial services to Dublin all of which the panel noted are leading to a renewed focus on Ireland. Interestingly, having asked the audience what they may consider to be their greatest concern, a show of hands concluded that above other issues, competitive pressure in a highly liquid market remained their prime concern.
Nigel chaired the second panel whose members were Gareth Casement (State Street Global Services), David Jesson (IHS Markit), Declan O’Sullivan (Dechert) and Helen Orton (Finastra). In continuing the theme of examining how technological advances could be used to increase efficiency and more specifically settlement times (an issue discussed in some of the sessions at the LMA Syndicated Loans conference held in London earlier this month), Nigel asked the panel their views on how IT could best be used now to improve liquidity in the market. The panel acknowledged the technological tools that were already available such as the loan identifier and noted the growing interest in distributed ledger technology but concluded that such advances would only work if the market mindset led to an across the board behavioural shift which itself would only occur once security concerns were allayed and agreement reached on a common framework to set a quality assurance in relation to such technology.
Having heard from Stuart McCarron from McCann Fitzgerald (as chair of the final session) who noted the reasons which led to the recent prominence of non bank lenders in Ireland, the day concluded with an interesting discussion by David Cullen ( Broadhaven Credit Partners), John Doddy (Deloitte), Fergal Feeney (Earlsfort Capital Partners) and Ross Morrow (Dunport Capital Management) who detailed their individual approach to non bank lending in Ireland and the different sectors in which they have invested over the last few years. They all acknowledged that the unitranche structure (though somewhat overused as a term) remained a favourable structure in light of the lower execution risk resulting from dealing with one institution. The panel welcomed the fact that the cov lite push which is being experienced currently elsewhere in Europe and in the UK is not a feature of Irish lending documentation. The panel concluded that Ireland remains attractive to non bank lenders in light of their good experience in their deals, to date, and Ireland’s ability to access the single market going forward.
We would like to sincerely thank Nigel Houghton and Kam Mahil from the LMA for giving Matheson the opportunity to host the LMA Dublin seminar in our offices and we are also grateful to all panel members and of course, participants who gave us food for thought on many issues relevant to now and the coming years.