Block trades are gaining popularity among banks and private equity firms, increasing market share in the US ECM space.
Blocks gaining US ECM market share
Block trades can be a useful instrument to quickly serve client needs if banks control the risk. In the US, block trades totaled $49.3bn via 159 deals so far this year. Though volume this YTD was lower than last YTD ($72.3bn via 175 deals), it still reached the third-highest YTD volume on record after 2016 and 2015 ($49.5bn via 142 deals).
Additionally, block trades have gained considerable market share in overall US ECM. Between 2000 and 2010, blocks were, on average, only 7.8% of annual ECM volume. Its market share has almost tripled since then, reaching an average of 22.4% annually between 2011 and 2017 YTD.
Growing popularity of using blocks
Since 2011, one major way of using block trades is to serve the needs of private equity firms. Blocks are one of the quickest and safest ways for them to sell large stakes in their portfolio companies. Consequently, sponsor-related blocks in the US totaled $170.8bn from 2011 to 2016, compared to only $28.6bn in the previous 6 years (2005–2010).
Certain industries also started accessing ECM more through block trades. For example, US retail block volume totaled $14.1bn from 2011 to 2016, compared to $740m in in the previous 6 years (2005–2010), while dining & lodging volume grew to $9.8bn from $782m over the same periods. Huge increases in block volume also occurred in leisure & recreation, food & beverage, and construction.
|US Block ECM by Bookrunner (2011-2016)|
|7||Bank of America Merrill Lynch||$29.8bn||151||8.5%|
|10||Wells Fargo Securities||$7.4bn||59||2.1%|
Bulge bracket domination
Bulge bracket banks have all increased their block trade business with no exceptions, with the top seven banks dominating the market. Between 2011 and 2016, US block volume from the top seven banks totaled $302.0bn—accounting for 86.1% of the overall block market—compared to just $79.1bn from the previous 6 years (2005–2010).
Despite the domination, a number of new players have successfully entered the block trade market (analyzed previously in US block trades: New opportunities for new players).
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Data source: Dealogic