Considerations When Selecting a Successor Agent

Behind every successful syndicated loan agreement is an effective administrative agent. The agent serves as an intermediary between borrowers and lenders and handles the day-to-day administration of the loan. Some of the tasks include compliance, processing of interest and principal payments, and distributing pertinent documents and financials to lenders. A single point of contact eliminates redundancies and creates efficiency. The right agent can ensure a smooth transaction.

Yet, sometimes, an agent resigns and/or needs to be replaced. Among the reasons an agent may vacate the role include selling its debt and no longer being a lender, or the agent and a group of lenders are unable to agree upon a contemplated course of action.

Also, if a firm agents multiple loan facilities for a borrower, the interests of the creditor groups may differ and the agent may surrender its role to avoid a potential conflict of interest. There may often be a wind-down requiring an agent to step down. In instances of special or distressed situations, replacement agents are sought if the existing agent may do something the rest of the bank group doesn’t want to do or the agent chooses to exit the credit. Whatever the reason, it’s crucial to have a plan in place for a streamlined transition.

Consider the following factors for an efficient appointment:

  • Start Early

The quicker a new administrative agent is selected, the less likely any delays will occur or lapses in administrative obligations.

  • Conflict-free

Choose an agent with no stake in the deal and who can move the transaction forward. An impartial party ensures a level playing field for lenders and obligors.

  • Experience

Select a successor agent that has demonstrated accomplishments in previous agent roles, including workouts and restructurings. It may also be helpful to choose an agent who has been appointed a successor agent previously and who knows how to step into the replacement role.

  • Global Capabilities

Look for a partnership or cohort that is adept at handling matters across jurisdictions without disruption.

  • Service

Find a proactive successor agent who moves swiftly and can keep up with the accelerated timelines required for today’s loan transactions. Keeping KYC (know your customer) top of mind and closing bank loan trades swiftly will lead to a successful outcome.

  • Customizable Solutions         

Deal nuances deserve more than a one-size-fits-all approach. A successor agent moving beyond cookie-cutter solutions and assessing each deal individually will provide a more pragmatic result.

  • Independent Agents

Given today’s fast-paced lending landscape, successor agents must be nimble and ready to review and execute documents quickly and accurately. Independent agents offer flexibility and efficiency to perform the duties required with speed and specialized market knowledge. 

Whatever the reason for finding a replacement successor agent, employing the considerations on the checklist will ensure a smooth transition and prevent undue distress. A timely appointment will enable lenders and borrowers to keep their focus on running their transactions—not running interference.

What is a Successor Agent?

In every syndicated and non-syndicated loan transaction, an administrative agent is appointed to act as a single point of contact between a borrower and a lender or lending group. The agent is responsible for the day-to-day administrative tasks, including compliance, processing of interest or principal payments, and distributing documents to lenders. The main role of the agent is to reduce redundancies and streamline deal processes to ensure a smooth transaction.

Sometimes a successor agent may be called upon in the event the original appointed agent no longer is able to perform the role or if the agent resigns. A successor, or replacement agent, is someone who can step into the position and participate in the administrative duties seamlessly.

While the successor agent may be involved in the transaction and already a part of the syndicate, or lending group, third-party agents may assume the responsibilities under the credit agreement provisions to carry out the tasks of the administrative agent. Third-party agents are mindful of ensuring their actions are under the direction of required lenders.

Either way, the successor agent must meet the criteria set out in the loan agreement. The credit agreement will be amended to reflect the change and the successor agent will perform the administrative duties and serve as the intermediary between the borrower and the lending group.

What is a syndicated loan agreement?

In today’s growing economy, there are many financing solutions available to companies. While lending to a borrower may be risky, there are ways to mitigate or lessen the risk. One such way is the syndicated loan.

Syndicated loans are typically used when financing is too large for a single lender to provide. A borrower may raise money from a group of lenders, called a syndicate. Syndication allows lenders, often banks, to spread risk so they aren’t liable for the full amount in the event of a default.

The syndicate will appoint an administrative agent to interact on behalf of the syndicate, facilitate borrowings, receive repayments, and distribute them to lenders. The role is crucial as it promotes a single point of contact to create efficiency and ensure a smooth transaction. Sometimes, a successor agent may be called upon to replace an original agent who cannot fulfill the role.

 A lead bank will perform due diligence on the business and a financial overview of the borrower and then will have counsel draft a commitment letter, term sheet, and fee letter outlining the significant terms of the agreement. Throughout the review period, the parties agree on closing times, fees, and covenants.

The document becomes the syndicated loan agreement, which essentially is a private financial pact made between lenders and borrowers. These agreements provide restrictions regarding how borrowers can operate and carry themselves financially. Even for issuers with public equity or debt, the credit agreement is only public if it is filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Credit agreements are necessary to ensure compliance from the borrower with terms set forth by the lenders. A breach of a credit agreement is considered a default.

Defaults may occur when a borrower violates the loan agreement. A technical default may result if a borrower does not meet a financial covenant test or fails to provide lenders with financial information. A payment default occurs when the borrower misses an interest or principal payment. 

A syndicated loan agreement provides guidelines to effectively protect the interests of all parties.

Renee Kuhl

Managing Director, Loan Agency tel:612-509-2323

Renee is the managing director for the Loan Agency Group for SRS Acquiom. As an accomplished financial industry professional, she leads the loan agency product.

Before joining SRS Acquiom, Renee served as an administrative vice president at Wilmington Trust, N.A., most recently leading the loan agency and restructuring products. In addition to her 10 years at Wilmington Trust, she also worked for Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. in the corporate trust and shareholder services departments.

Renee has a Juris Doctorate from Mitchell Hamline School of Law in Minnesota, and a B.A. in political science and history from Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California.

Gain the SRS Acquiom edge on your next deal.

Get Started