Introduction

The Federal Reserve’s recent announcement regarding potential interest rate cuts for next year has sparked concerns about the possible slowdown of the years-long private debt boom. However, Queensland Investment Corp. remains confident in the potential of private debt markets and plans to increase its investment in this sector in 2024. Allison Hill, the state chief investment officer at Queensland Investment Corp., believes that there may be opportunities to address the re-emerging stress in financial markets.

Rethinking Loan Agreements

As interest rates started to rise, many companies sought to extend the terms of their loans while also agreeing to new repayment conditions. Hill points out the emerging need for rollover loans, funds for mergers and acquisitions, and other similar transactions. These opportunities arise from the pressing need for loan restructuring.

The Rise of Private Debt

In recent years, private debt has gained popularity due to the difficulty in controlling inflation and signals from central banks suggesting higher interest rates for a longer period. This uncertain outlook has caused traditional lenders to exercise caution, resulting in limited capital availability for some borrowers. However, private credit managers have capitalized on this gap in the market by providing loans to businesses.

The Shifting Interest-Rate Cycle

With the recent projections indicating three rate cuts next year, it appears that the interest-rate cycle is changing. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell acknowledges the potential risk of leaving rates too high as inflation falls, thus underscoring the need for rate cuts to support the economy.

In conclusion, while some worry about the potential slowdown in private debt markets, Queensland Investment Corp. remains optimistic and sees promising opportunities on the horizon. The shifting interest-rate cycle calls for a reevaluation of strategies, and Queensland Investment Corp. is prepared to capitalize on these changes in order to navigate the financial landscape successfully in 2024.

Private Debt Markets Remain Buoyant Amidst Changing Landscape

The recent resurgence of traditional lenders' risk appetite has prompted questions about the future buoyancy of private-debt markets. However, current indications suggest that these markets will continue to thrive.

According to a survey conducted by London-based asset manager Coller Capital, nearly half of investors plan to increase their target allocation to private credit. AustralianSuper, the largest pension fund in Australia, has also expressed intentions to increase its investments in global private credit. Specifically, AustralianSuper will allocate an additional US$1.5 billion to Nuveen, the asset management arm of Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America.

QIC, another notable player in the market, aims to allocate 8% of its funds under management to private debt. While they have yet to reach this target, QIC plans to invest more funds in this asset class, after successfully establishing core mandates in recent years.

In addition to expanding relationships with existing fund managers, including their own in-house teams, QIC remains committed to its other core holdings, such as infrastructure. Among these assets, infrastructure has proven to be highly resilient throughout economic cycles, according to Hill of QIC.

QIC also predicts that interest rates in the U.S. have likely peaked and expects a total of 75 basis points in rate cuts by 2024. They anticipate that Australia will follow suit and begin reducing rates in 2025.

Despite these optimistic developments, Hill acknowledges that rates will still remain significantly higher than in the immediate aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis.

Italicized text denotes quotes from Hill.

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