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Credit Trends: Global Refinancing--Pandemic-Era Debt Overhang Will Add To Financing Pressure In The Coming Years

The abrupt shift in financing conditions over the past year poses a challenge for upcoming refinancing demands. Following robust corporate fundraising in 2020 and 2021 on extremely easy financing conditions, 2022 saw financing conditions hampered by uncertainty around the Russia-Ukraine war and the hawkish moves of central banks raising benchmark rates and beginning quantitative tightening. Still, maturities in 2023 and 2024 appear largely manageable after companies broadly extended maturity profiles when financing conditions were more favorable. However, pandemic-era debt maturing in 2025 and beyond, particularly for speculative-grade issuers, could further pressure already-tight financing conditions.

S&P Global Ratings rates $22.7 trillion in corporate debt (including bonds, loans, and revolving credit facilities from financial and nonfinancial corporate issuers). Of this, 8% is scheduled to mature over the next 12 months (through Dec. 31, 2023), a share that is largely unchanged from the same time in 2022. However, 28.7% of total debt will come due over the next three years (through Dec. 31, 2025) as maturities escalate, and this share is up by close to a percentage point over the past year.

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This analysis is based on a review of debt instruments rated by S&P Global Ratings and issued by financial and nonfinancial corporate borrowers globally. Debt amounts have been aggregated by issue credit rating, and regional breakouts are aggregated by the parent's country of incorporation.

Speculative-grade debt (rated 'BB+' or below) is more vulnerable to refinancing risk. This is especially true if volatile and uncertain markets heighten investor risk aversion, leading to higher funding costs and limiting the availability of funding for lower-rated borrowers. However, speculative-grade debt accounts for less than a quarter of the $22.7 trillion in total rated debt as most of the rated debt is investment grade (rated 'BBB-' or higher), which accounts for an even higher share of the debt maturing in the near- to mid-term. The bulk of speculative-grade maturities have been pushed out, with speculative-grade debt accounting for just 13% of maturities through 2023, 16% through 2024, and 21% through 2025.

Although speculative grade comprises a relatively small slice of near-term maturities, maturities in later years may add to funding demands in the coming months. As companies typically refinance their debt 12 to 18 months ahead of maturity, debt that begins to mature in 2025 may begin to pressure borrowers to seek refinancing opportunities later this year and in 2024.

Despite the overhang of debt maturing in later years, maturities for 2023 and 2024 appear manageable when compared with recent issuance volumes. While year-over-year volumes fell sharply in percentage terms after record issuance in 2020 and 2021, global volumes reached nearly $2.15 trillion for rated bonds and just over $500 billion for leveraged loans in 2022. These issuance volumes greatly exceed annual maturities over the next two years.

Higher quality credit issuance declined less in 2022. Investment-grade bond issuance fell by 11% globally to almost $2.0 trillion. Even so, it remained well over upcoming annual maturities of investment-grade bonds, which peak at $1.71 trillion in 2025 (see chart 1). The majority of investment-grade bonds maturing through 2025 (at 52%) are from financial services, the largest share of which are European.

Chart 1

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Issuance of speculative-grade bonds and leveraged loans fell by 76% and 47%, respectively, in 2022, particularly as the war in Ukraine stoked market uncertainty and volatility. Even this constrained volume of issuance ($667 billion for leveraged loans and speculative-grade bonds combined) would have been more than enough to cover speculative-grade maturities for 2023 and 2024.

While speculative-grade maturities over the next 24 months appear broadly manageable, riskier borrowers continue to face tough financing conditions. Primary markets were essentially shuttered to risky borrowers during parts of last year, and the longer conditions remain this challenging, the greater the risk that vulnerable issuers, regions, or sectors could feel the squeeze (see chart 2).

Chart 2

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Speculative Grade Leads Marginal Decline In Debt Maturities

The par value of global rated debt totals $22.7 trillion (as of Jan. 1, 2023), down 0.46% over 2022.   The slowdown of new debt issuance, some paydown of existing debt, and pronounced U.S. dollar strengthening in the first half of last year contributed to the marginal reduction. While 2022 marked the first year in which the amount of rated debt declined (slightly) year-over-year, we did see a modest amount of debt growth (up 0.5%) in the second half (see chart 3). Speculative grade led the marginal decline in total debt over the 12-month period.

Sharp dollar appreciation in the first half of 2022 led to much of the relative contraction of debt denominated in other currencies. If we were to hold exchange rates constant at the rates as of Jan. 1, 2022, we would have seen a modest increase in the total level of rated debt during 2022 (up 1.7% overall and basically unchanged in the second half of the year), although speculative grade would still have fallen 5.2%.

Chart 3

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Despite the slowdown in new issuance in 2022, companies continued to push out their maturity walls. For total financial and nonfinancial corporate debt, 2023 maturities were reduced by 7% in the second half of 2022, following an 11% reduction in the first half of 2022 (see chart 4).

Nonfinancial corporates continued to reduce maturities in 2024 and 2025, and speculative-grade nonfinancial companies reduced maturities through 2026. By contrast, financial services issuers added to debt maturing after 2023 as bank issuance grew. Despite the growth of financial services' debt in 2024 and after, nonfinancial corporates appear to present greater refinancing risk, as they have a higher concentration of speculative-grade debt and their maturities show a more pronounced steepening over the next few years.

Chart 4

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Near-Term Nonfinancial Debt Paydowns Continue

Nonfinancial maturities steadily rise from $994 billion in 2023 to a peak of almost $1.6 trillion in 2026 (see chart 5). Over the last six months, nonfinancial companies chipped away at annual maturities through 2025, with the largest reduction in 2023 (down 9%), followed by 2024 and 2025 (down 3% and just 0.1%, respectively). Maturities continued to grow in later years, with 2026 up 1%, and 2027 up 10.9%.

Chart 5

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Near-term nonfinancial corporate refinancing demands for debt maturing through 2024 appear broadly manageable, though challenges remain. This represents a small share of total debt and is more heavily weighted toward investment grade.

  • 6.8% of nonfinancial corporate debt is scheduled to mature over the next 12 months and 15.7% over the next two years (through Dec. 31, 2024).
  • 80% of the debt maturing over the next 12 months (and 74.4% maturing in the next 24 months) is investment grade.
  • The 'BBB' category accounts for the largest share (45%) of the debt maturing in the next 24 months, followed by the 'A' category (23%).
  • Investment-grade maturities reach their highest level at $910.4 billion in 2024, while speculative-grade maturities peak at $837.4 billion in 2028.
  • Utilities and autos are the two nonfinancial sectors with the most debt maturing over the next 24 months (see table 3 in the appendix).

Chart 6

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Although speculative-grade issuers faced challenging financing conditions in 2022, speculative-grade maturities over the next four years were reduced to a greater degree than nonfinancial maturities overall. Speculative-grade nonfinancial maturities for 2023 were reduced the most in the second half of 2022 (24%), followed by 2024 (13%), and maturities in 2025 and 2026 were reduced by 5% and 2%, respectively (see chart 7). In addition to paydowns, this reduction reflects a number of rising stars (including T-Mobile U.S. Inc. and Hyatt Hotels Corp.), whose debt was upgraded to investment-grade, and an increase in defaults (which rose to 45 globally in the second half of 2022, from 38 in the first half).

Despite these reductions in near- and mid-term maturities, the maturity wall appears to be drawing nearer for speculative grade.   The median maturity for a speculative-grade nonfinancial debt instrument shortened to 4.0 years (as of Jan. 1, 2023), from 4.3 years (as of Jan. 1, 2022), while the median maturity for an investment-grade instrument held steady at near 6.2 years.

Chart 7

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The risk of a prolonged recession or capital market disruption that leads to periods of reduced funding liquidity and sharply higher funding costs continues to hang over weaker credits. While investment-grade issuers appear well-poised to meet upcoming maturities, speculative grade grows as a share of annual maturities from 20.1% of nonfinancial debt in 2023 to near 47% in 2026, and eventually surpasses investment-grade, with 58% of 2028's maturities.

  • The media and entertainment and telecommunications sectors account for the largest amounts of speculative-grade debt maturing over the next 12 and 24 months.
  • Media and entertainment companies are already facing credit headwinds as higher interest rates weaken cash flow and interest coverage.
  • Telecommunications, by contrast, is relatively resistant to higher inflation and a weakening economic outlook due to the utility-like characteristics of the industry.
  • The 'BB' category accounts for the largest share of speculative-grade nonfinancial annual maturities through 2024.
  • 'B' category debt accounts for the majority of speculative-grade maturities from 2025-2027.
  • Most maturities of debt rated in the 'B' category and lower over the next few years are of loans and revolvers; bonds comprise a smaller share.

Within speculative grade, the lowest-rated debt--'B-' and lower--would likely show the most refinancing vulnerability, particularly when investors are risk averse.   Just $50 billion in debt rated 'B-' or lower is scheduled to mature in 2023, but annual maturities of this lower-rated debt swiftly rise to $111 billion in 2024 and $207 billion in 2025 (see chart 8).

Chart 8

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As companies typically refinance their debt 12 to 18 months ahead of maturity, this overhang of 'B-' and lower debt maturing in 2025 will likely weigh on borrowers as they look for opportunities to refinance. In volatile and uncertain markets such as we've seen lately, issuance of debt rated 'B-' or lower has been constrained by limited demand from risk-averse investors and collateralized loan obligation managers.

While companies still have several years to reduce or pay down this debt before it matures, this overhang is adding to the pressure on companies with weaker credit, particularly as funding costs rise.

Higher Rates Present Another Challenge

Facing elevated inflation in 2022, central banks aggressively lifted benchmark rates, which will add to issuer funding costs. S&P Global Ratings economists now project that the fed funds rate will reach above 5% in 2023 and the European Central Bank could eventually lift its deposit rate to 3%. Meanwhile, SOFR rose to 4.3% as of Dec. 31, 2022, from just 0.05% at the start of the year.

Issuers with floating-rate debt will feel the pinch of rising funding costs soonest, while issuers of fixed-rate debt will face higher rates as they refinance.   Just over half of all speculative-grade debt is floating rate, while nearly 83% of investment-grade debt (or $14.4 trillion) is fixed rate.

Chart 9

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Chart 10

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Speculative-grade borrowers with fixed-rate debt have some time before most of this debt matures, which should help to delay some of the effect of higher rates. Just 12% of fixed-rate speculative-grade debt ($314.5 billion) is scheduled to mature within the next two years globally, versus 18% of fixed-rate investment-grade debt.

Table 1

Global Maturity Schedule For Fixed- Versus Floating-Rate Corporate Debt
(Bil. $) 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 Total
Nonfinancials
Investment grade
Fixed 638.4 729.5 806.2 722.5 719.0 3,615.7
Floating 156.2 180.9 85.8 124.7 58.9 606.6
Speculative grade
Fixed 108.9 152.3 269.7 311.4 287.1 1,129.4
Floating 90.5 233.6 359.9 439.2 351.3 1,474.5
Financials
Investment grade
Fixed 588.9 638.7 654.0 579.8 490.5 2,951.8
Floating 200.6 243.1 246.6 227.4 183.8 1,101.5
Speculative grade
Fixed 24.7 28.7 36.3 29.9 21.4 140.9
Floating 4.4 11.6 21.2 23.7 38.3 99.1
Total 1,812.7 2,218.2 2,479.7 2,458.7 2,150.4 11,119.6
Data as of Jan. 1, 2023. Includes bonds, loans, and revolving credit facilities that are rated by S&P Global Ratings from financial and nonfinancial corporate issuers. Foreign currencies are converted to U.S. dollars at the exchange rate on Jan. 1, 2023. Source: S&P Global Ratings Credit Research & Insights.

Financial Services Debt Maturities Show A More Modest Rise

Financial services' maturities peak in 2025, before nonfinancial corporates'. However, financial services' maturities show a more modest increase from 2023 to their peak. Annual maturities for financial services rise 17% to $958 billion in 2025, from $818.6 billion in 2023 (see chart 11). This is a much smaller increase than we see for nonfinancial corporates, for which annual maturities rise nearly 61% from current year maturities to their peak in 2026. Furthermore, financial services debt is more highly concentrated in investment grade.

Chart 11

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Financial services' maturities appear manageable given recent issuance volumes.   Financial services' bond issuance declined by 12.3% in 2022 to $1.4 trillion. This was less than the decline in nonfinancial corporate issuance, as higher bank issuance partially offset declines from brokerages, insurers, and other financial institutions. As in prior years, 2022's issuance volume exceeded upcoming annual maturities. While issuance has held above $1.2 trillion annually since 2014, upcoming bond maturities remain below $940 billion annually (see chart 12).

Chart 12

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Financial Services Debt Is Highly Concentrated In Investment Grade

More than 90% of financial services' total debt and more than 95% of the sector's 2023-2024 maturities are investment grade.   Through 2024, the 'A' category comprises the largest share of annual maturities at more than 40% each year, followed by the 'BBB' category, which accounts for more than 25% of maturities each year (see chart 13). Just 3.6% ($29.1 billion) of financial services debt maturing in 2023 is speculative grade, rising slightly in 2024 to 4.4% ($40.2 billion). Much of this speculative-grade debt consists of banks' subordinated debt (which is rated below the issuer credit rating), debt from emerging market banks, and debt of speculative-grade nonbank financial institutions.

Chart 13

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Appendix

Table 2

Global Maturity Schedule
(Bil. $) 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 Total
U.S.
Financials
Investment grade 183.8 256.8 267.0 262.7 201.5 1,171.8
Speculative grade 8.5 15.5 29.9 33.0 43.8 130.8
Nonfinancials
Investment grade 397.5 462.7 473.1 456.5 414.0 2,203.7
Speculative grade 106.7 247.7 389.3 423.6 416.1 1,583.4
Total U.S. 696.5 982.7 1,159.2 1,175.8 1,075.4 5,089.7
Europe
Financials
Investment grade 414.4 409.4 433.5 416.4 336.9 2,010.6
Speculative grade 12.0 14.3 15.7 17.5 11.8 71.2
Nonfinancials
Investment grade 252.0 308.4 293.6 264.2 253.4 1,371.7
Speculative grade 64.2 98.7 169.9 228.5 152.5 713.8
Total Europe 742.6 830.8 912.7 926.6 754.6 4,167.3
Rest of World
Financials
Investment grade 191.3 215.6 200.1 128.1 135.9 870.9
Speculative grade 8.6 10.4 11.8 3.1 4.2 38.1
Nonfinancials
Investment grade 145.1 139.3 125.4 126.6 110.5 646.9
Speculative grade 28.5 39.4 70.5 98.5 69.8 306.7
Total rest of world 373.5 404.7 407.7 356.3 320.3 1,862.6
Totals
Total investment grade 1,584.2 1,792.2 1,792.6 1,654.5 1,452.2 8,275.6
Total speculative grade 228.5 426.1 687.1 804.2 698.2 2,844.0
Total financials 818.6 922.0 958.0 860.8 734.0 4,293.4
Total nonfinancials 994.1 1,296.2 1,521.7 1,597.9 1,416.3 6,826.2
Total 1,812.7 2,218.2 2,479.7 2,458.7 2,150.4 11,119.6
Data as of Jan. 1, 2023. Includes bonds, loans, and revolving credit facilities that are rated by S&P Global Ratings. Excludes debt instruments that do not have a global scale rating. Foreign currencies are converted to U.S. dollars at the exchange rate on Jan. 1, 2023. Source: S&P Global Ratings Credit Research & Insights.

Table 3

Global Maturity Schedule For Nonfinancial Sectors (Bil. $)
--Investment grade-- --Speculative grade--
Sector 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 Total
Aerospace and defense 17.0 11.3 18.1 17.4 13.2 2.0 10.0 20.2 21.2 23.8 154.2
Automotive 105.6 108.9 74.8 52.1 47.5 16.6 22.6 31.7 37.4 33.2 530.5
Capital goods 43.4 46.5 38.8 37.3 33.8 6.8 16.6 37.4 29.7 30.8 321.2
Consumer products 67.0 83.1 85.6 88.8 92.2 14.5 33.7 69.1 74.1 55.5 663.6
CP&ES 34.0 42.8 41.8 51.3 39.1 13.5 35.9 32.5 44.7 40.3 375.7
Diversified 1.4 2.7 0.8 2.1 0.7 0.5 1.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 9.5
Forest products and building materials 11.2 11.0 13.8 14.2 16.5 1.2 6.0 8.4 18.0 22.3 122.7
Health care 70.6 72.9 81.9 81.0 52.5 17.6 29.9 85.5 77.5 81.5 651.0
High technology 69.8 70.8 70.4 71.4 70.8 10.5 34.8 59.1 60.0 56.1 573.7
Homebuilders/real estate companies 34.0 50.4 54.3 53.6 51.0 9.0 7.5 13.7 8.6 8.0 290.0
Media and entertainment 20.2 47.5 38.5 52.8 24.3 29.7 82.7 89.9 140.2 100.2 626.0
Metals, mining, and steel 14.7 13.9 12.9 7.0 9.4 6.4 10.7 13.2 13.5 12.8 114.6
Oil and gas 58.2 66.4 63.2 54.6 48.9 12.3 16.1 35.5 42.6 22.6 420.4
Retail/restaurants 26.7 39.1 40.5 42.1 36.4 13.6 15.4 37.4 50.0 31.0 332.1
Telecommunications 50.1 64.3 79.2 64.8 69.0 23.6 33.4 53.1 71.7 80.1 589.4
Transportation 51.5 50.8 55.3 51.3 53.0 7.2 15.4 23.1 30.9 18.1 356.6
Utilities 119.3 128.0 122.2 105.4 119.7 14.3 13.7 19.9 30.6 22.2 695.1
Total 794.7 910.4 892.0 847.3 777.9 199.4 385.8 629.7 750.6 638.4 6,826.2
Data as of Jan. 1, 2023. Includes bonds, loans, and revolving credit facilities that are rated by S&P Global Ratings. Excludes debt instruments that do not have a global scale rating. Foreign currencies are converted to USD at the exchange rate on Jan. 1, 2023. CP&ES -- Chemicals, packaging, and environmental services. Media and entertainment includes leisure. Source: S&P Global Ratings Credit Research & Insights.

Table 4

Global Debt Amount By Rating
--Bil. $-- --% of total--
Rating category Financial Nonfinancial Total Financial Nonfinancial Total
AAA 673.7 98.8 772.5 3.0 0.4 3.4
AA 903.0 712.7 1,615.7 4.0 3.1 7.1
A 3,239.9 2,968.5 6,208.4 14.3 13.1 27.3
BBB 2,629.9 6,200.2 8,830.1 11.6 27.3 38.9
BB 511.7 1,954.3 2,466.0 2.3 8.6 10.9
B 177.9 2,165.2 2,343.1 0.8 9.5 10.3
CCC/Below 25.9 448.2 474.0 0.1 2.0 2.1
Investment grade 7,446.5 9,980.2 17,426.7 32.8 43.9 76.7
Speculative grade 715.5 4,567.7 5,283.2 3.2 20.1 23.3
Total 8,162.0 14,547.9 22,709.9 35.9 64.1 100.0
Includes bonds, notes, loans, and revolving credit facilities rated by S&P Global Ratings that were outstanding as of Jan. 1, 2023. Includes instruments maturing after 2027. Foreign currencies are converted to U.S. dollars at the exchange rate on Jan. 1, 2023. Source: S&P Global Ratings Credit Research & Insights.

Data Approach

For this analysis, we investigated the potential refunding needs of financial and nonfinancial corporate debt rated by S&P Global Ratings.

For each region, we included the rated debt of all parent companies and their foreign subsidiaries. We counted the debt of all these companies regardless of the currency or market in which the debt was issued. We converted any non-U.S.-dollar-denominated debt to U.S. dollars based on the exchange rates on Jan. 1, 2023.

The issue types covered include loans, revolving credit facilities, bank notes, bonds, debentures, convertible bonds, covered bonds, intermediate notes, medium-term notes, index-linked notes, equipment pass-through certificates, and preferred stock. In the case of revolving credit facilities, the amount usually represents the original facility limit, not necessarily the amount that has been drawn. Debt amounts are tallied as the face value of outstanding rated debt instruments. We excluded individual issues that are not currently rated at the instrument level, as well as instruments from issuers currently rated 'D' (default) or 'SD' (selective default). We expect the credit market will have already accommodated some of the debt remaining in this year, given normal data-reporting lags.

We aggregated the data by issue credit rating. We also aggregated sector-specific data according to the subsector of the issuer. The financial sector is defined as all banks, brokers, insurance companies, asset managers, mortgage companies, and other financial institutions. We aggregated debt issued by financial arms of nonfinancial companies with the sector of the corporate parent. We excluded government-sponsored agencies such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, project finance, and public finance issuers.

Related Research

This report does not constitute a rating action.

Credit Research & Insights:Evan M Gunter, New York + 1 (212) 438 6412;
evan.gunter@spglobal.com
Nick W Kraemer, FRM, New York + 1 (212) 438 1698;
nick.kraemer@spglobal.com
Patrick Drury Byrne, Dublin (00353) 1 568 0605;
patrick.drurybyrne@spglobal.com
Research Contributor:Tanya Dias, CRISIL Global Analytical Center, an S&P affiliate, Mumbai

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