March 11, 2020 / 3:16 PM / 18 days ago

ETFs, asset managers at risk from sudden sales over coronavirus: IMF official

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Any sudden decision by investors to sell shares in credit-focused asset managers and exchange traded funds (ETFs) over concerns about the coronavirus outbreak could put pressure on the managers to sell their riskier assets quickly, the director of IMF Monetary and Capital Markets said on Wednesday.

Investors have been growing increasingly worried that the spread of coronavirus could hit U.S. corporate cash flow if the expanding health crisis keeps workers at home or prevents companies from paying employees.

The concern was felt in the market on Wednesday when closed-end high-yield bond funds fell - some by nearly twice as much as the broader high-yield market - as investors pulled out of the leveraged products, while some companies called on credit lines.

The International Monetary Fund’s Tobias Adrian told Reuters the worry was at the riskier end of the fixed income space, including high yield bonds, leveraged loans and emerging markets debt.

“There are asset managers that hold relatively illiquid assets like high-yield bonds or loans and the risk is that the investors in those asset managers might decide to redeem their shares quickly,” Adrian said in an interview.

A sharp pullout could create a mismatch between the duration of the assets and the duration of the liabilities, which “might put pressure on the asset managers to sell relatively illiquid assets very quickly,” he said.

“So far we are not seeing a credit crunch but at some point we might see an increase in defaults,” he said.

Adrian said that airline, tourism, hotels, and entertainment sectors have been hit particularly hard and could be hit harder the longer the health crisis goes on.

“I think the banking sector is resilient relative to those shocks but the question is how drawn out this is going to last, and it could have somewhat pronounced effect on global growth. That could put stress on the banks at some point.”

Boeing Co (BA.N) is planning to draw down the rest of a $13.8 billion loan it agreed last month, a source told Reuters on Wednesday.

Hilton Worldwide also plans to draw down a portion of its $1.75 billion loan, Bloomberg reported. Hilton did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Bloomberg also reported that private equity firm Blackstone Group Inc <BX.N > is asking companies it controls to draw down their credit lines, citing people familiar with the matter.

Reporting by Megan Davies; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Sonya Hepinstall

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