Elon Musk’s Twitter deal could tank the leveraged buyout market

Elon Musk’s antics have made it hard for his banks — Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, and Barclays — to sell the debt required to do the Twitter deal. So they’re just going to hold it, all $13 billion of it, The Wall Street Journal reports. Truly a next-level “hold-my-beer” move, because it threatens to bring leveraged buyouts to a halt.

Typically, a bank sells the debt used to create a buyout, and moves on to the next deal. But since they’re holding Musk’s beer, they don’t have a free hand to hold anyone else’s. Or, as The WSJ puts it, “The Twitter move threatens to bring the faltering leveraged-buyout pipeline to a standstill by tying up capital that Wall Street could otherwise use to back new deals.”

Part of the reason for holding Musk’s debt is because the appetite for it has decreased due to (waves vaguely at the Fed) financial conditions. But part of it is Musk’s mercurial approach to the deal:

Mr. Musk and Twitter have until Oct. 28 to close his planned purchase, and there is still no guarantee the unpredictable billionaire will follow through or some other trouble won’t arise. (If the deal doesn’t close by that time, the two parties will go to court in November.) That means the banks wouldn’t have enough time to market the debt to third-party investorsa process that normally takes weeks, even if they wanted to sell it now.

Emphasis mine, obviously. The downside of being unpredictable is that money types really, really do not like surprises!