Syndicated lending is a well-established and critical way for banks to share risk in financing larger or riskier projects. However, syndicates also involve otherwise competing banks talking to each other about the terms of the financing, sometimes with the potential to reduce competition between them.
On the heels of a high profile criminal cartel case launched against three major financial institutions and individuals last year, the financial services sector has been identified as a key focus area for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in 2019. A Financial Services Unit has been established to undertake regular inquiries into specific financial competition issues.
Syndicated lending processes may well feature in the ACCC’s consideration, particularly given the recent release by the European Commission of its final report on loan syndication, and its impacts on competition in credit markets (EC Report). The report highlights certain practices that could give rise to competition risks, involving the close cooperation or potentially collusive behaviour of syndicate members. Our firm’s detailed analysis of the EC Report can be accessed here.
Whilst the EC Report relies on European precedent and data, many of the issues raised have global relevance.
Download our summary of the findings of the report and their application to the Australian banking sector.