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Expand chart
Data: S&P Global Market Intelligence; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

August isn’t usually a record month for fundraising or deal-making. Tell that to the CLO market, which is having its most active month ever.

Driving the news: New CLOs, or collateralized loan obligations, have closed at a pace not touched in the last decade, according to data from LCD, an offering of S&P Global Market Intelligence. And August isn’t even over yet.

Why it matters: CLOs are funds that invest in leveraged loans, or the loans of larger companies with lower credit ratings. More CLOs means more dry powder to support debt financing for private equity buyouts and M&A deals.

Context: 2021 has been a banner year for fundraising across many asset classes — including private equity, according to PitchBook.

By the numbers: As of Aug. 23, $17.1 billion in U.S. CLOs had closed during the month.

  • The previous monthly record was March 2015’s $16.2 billion.
  • The third and fourth highest months were both in 2021: February and June brought tallies of nearly $16 billion apiece.

The bottom line: Plenty more buyouts are in the works, and they'll need financing. With this rate of CLO formations, that shouldn't be a problem.

Go deeper

Venture capital in Arkansas up 151% from 2020

Expand chart
Data: PitchBook & NVCA; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

After largely taking a year off, angels are back in Arkansas. Angel investors.

What's happening: Venture capital invested in Arkansas companies through the third quarter was valued at an estimated $89.7 million. That's up 151% from $35.7 million for all of 2020.

  • The numbers, shared with Axios, are from PitchBook, a private equity database company.

Why it matters: Private investment gives startups and young companies resources to grow more rapidly, often before sales can catch up with the need to expand.

  • Since the investment usually comes with both risk and potential, investors stand to make a higher return.

By the numbers: An estimated 77% of the statewide total was invested in Northwest Arkansas companies in the first three quarters of the year.

  • Companies in the Little Rock metro, which includes North Little Rock and Conway, received the rest.
  • The number of deals in Arkansas remains low with only 18 so far this year in NWA and 5 in the Little Rock metro.
  • Still, the value of deals for 2021 is at an all-time high and will end well over the $71 million reported in 2019.

Zoom out: While investments in Arkansas slowed during 2020, they didn't miss a beat at the national level.

  • Total deal value in the U.S. through the third quarter of this year is estimated to be $54.7 billion, up about 24% from $44.2 billion in 2020.

Venture capital deals in Austin, Texas — a metro many like to compare with NWA — were valued at $3.78 billion so far this year.

Zoom in: The leader in NWA is Fayetteville's AcreTrader, a company that helps consumers invest in shares of farmland. The company has received about $18 million in venture capital this year, which is below PitchBook's estimate of $22 million.

  • AcreTrader's investor relations team told Axios the anomaly is probably due to how some of the company's investments (on behalf of its consumers) get reported in the news and then are inadvertently added to data used by PitchBook.

💭 Worth's thought bubble: Economists, entrepreneurs and those who consult entrepreneurs have told us there aren't enough investments made in NWA companies.

  • Given the disparity between values, our region has a long way to go to be competitive with economies at high-tech hubs across the country.
Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.