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September 2021 | Issue 238
Opinion CLOs

For Creditflux this will be an extra special occasion — the publication is marking its 20th year in business

Welshcake
welshcake@acuris.com
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A colourful train journey featuring Alice in Wonderland, Yoda and Top Trumps puts Welshcake in mind of the CLO Symposium
Big occasions have a way of refocusing us on all we hold dear but take for granted in the daily grind. This is why I thought I’d draw your attention to a very big occasion close at hand in the structured credit market.
I write this month’s column with considerable difficulty aboard a train to Edinburgh that is essentially a bachelor-party convention. I fled my first seat after finding myself near a group where a mate of the wig-and-make-up-wearing groom droned on in detail about the drab things he did on the drabbest days, taking pause only to remind everyone how ill he felt.
This carriage is a slight improvement, though I was sat across from a bunch where the groom wore a gimp mask and PVC shorts and his friends played Top Trumps for the privilege of pouring beer into him through a funnel.
The pay-off (for me) came when a cider-fuelled stag party — with an Alice in Wonderland groom who looks like the gang leader in Mad Max — turned up to turf the gimp’s gang out of their booked seats. For a while, a stag stand-off ensued. But after a Yoda stag pushed through the middle (searching for booze he is, yes), Alice prevailed over the gimp and Strongbow washed away the pools of Carling on the table opposite.
This is the reality of Britain in 2021. The covid pandemic has delayed many things that now, with the relaxation of social distancing, are being concertinaed together. Big deals, holidays overseas — and of course, weddings.
In fact, that’s why I’m here, too. This weekend I have the honour of officiating at the marriage of two of my dearest friends. It will be an unofficial, uncut, extra-long version of an event that has been 18 months in gestation due to covid delays. Mine feels like a once-in-a-lifetime role — especially given what I’m wearing.
Also set to return in person for the first time since 2019 will be the Creditflux Symposium on 8 September — and what an event that promises to be. The team did an admirable job in an online format last year, but this year’s atmosphere and occasion will be priceless as CLO market participants are able, at long last, to congregate, catch up and celebrate each other’s achievements.
For Creditflux itself this will be an extra special occasion as the publication will be marking its 20th year in business. The annual CLO awards have been around for a little less than that — 14 years — but this is an appropriate juncture to remind ourselves of their importance.
Creditflux doesn’t shout this nearly as loud as it could do, but these manager awards are unique. Hardly anywhere in finance — or indeed any industry — do you find award winners decided by transparent science and methodology, rather than who-knows-how-many votes, a panel’s whim or who pays the most in sponsorship.
Numbers are the only thing that matter in Creditflux’s process of adjudication, and this approach is vindicated by the fact that 87 managers have put themselves in contention and submitted over 1,100 CLOs — a record on both counts. There would not be this much engagement if your tireless editor simply picked his mates (as the UK government did this month, when, after interviewing 173 applicants for its sleaze watchdog opening, it picked a member of Boris Johnson’s infamous Oxford Bullingdon Club society photo).
A tricky, testing year to judge
Creditflux’s job will have been made more challenging by the peculiarities of the past 12 months. At times, the markets will have massively hurt returns. At others they will have super-charged them. I’m reminded of the 1904 Tour de France winner Maurice Garin who, by some accounts, caught a train. Nevertheless, the team’s robust approach will ensure that only true excellence is rewarded, so even if some familiar faces do end up on the stage, there can be no insinuation of conspiracy.
Congratulations in advance to those who prevail and all who participated. This has been a testing time in which you have shown the worth of the entire CLO asset class — a win for everyone in the industry that will reverberate long after the final round of applause at the Landmark Hotel — and a victory I will begin celebrating as soon as I can persuade the lads across the aisle that my get-up qualifies me for temporary membership of their Alice-themed stag-do. Cheers!
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Global credit funds & CLO's
September 2021 | Issue 238
Published in London & New York.
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