WatersTechnology: Syndicated loans tech, processes lag other markets. Bank-backed Versana wants to change that

Born from a consortium that includes JP Morgan and Bank of America, Versana aims to bring up-to-date and permissioned data to the syndicated loan market—the first step to a more transparent and faster operating market.

A June 2021 report from consultancy Coalition Greenwich found that the first quarter of 2021 saw $263.9 billion in new loans being issued in the US and Europe. Collateralized loan obligations (CLOs), which tend to be the biggest buyers and holders of loans, saw a record issuance of $39.3 billion in the first quarter as well. Technological innovation did not keep pace with that growth. Manual processes—phone, fax machine, and email—still dominate dealmaking and information sharing. Something had to give.

Enter Versana. Officially launched last month, Versana is a cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) data platform that aims to provide both the buy and sell side with a centralized golden source of data that would normally be kept in siloed systems.

“The fact that somebody is able to manage that loan portfolio in a way that creates data flow between firms where everybody understands the data’s format and the way the data is presented is important because it really didn’t exist,” says Audrey Blater, a senior analyst in the market structure and technology group at Coalition Greenwich. “People in this industry are not used to using these types of tools because they just hadn’t been invented, but they’ve been alive and well in other asset classes.”

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