The first thing to ask is: what does ACAS get from the sale? No price was mentioned, but AGNC's basis in the shares was $20, the sale occurred at a time AGNC traded over $22, and the sale caused a price dip (the prior day's peak was over $23, but on the day the sale was announced it dipped below $22) that left the price above $21, so it's likely ACAS got at least its capital back out of the sale ($20). Given that two and a half million times $20 is $50m, it seems ACAS likely raised about $50m -- maybe a bit more if the private placement price was something close to market value instead of being discounted. Given ACAS' credit situation, it's quite possible selling AGNC to a major bank at a discount might be part of some larger transaction.
What does the sale mean?
- Institutional interest exists, at least near the size of $50m chunks, for ACAS' funds management
- ACAS can raise something like $50m again if it needs to (assuming AGNC's price keeps up) because ACAS has another 2.5m shares of AGNC -- and still keep receiving monthly managment fees in cash based on the whole of AGNC
- Institutional appetite for millions of shares of AGNC can also support subsequent offerings of new AGNC shares, increasing ACAS' funds under management and elevating its monthly management fee cash receipts
In the meantime, what can ACAS do with the money? ACAS is looking at an upcoming debt retirement, and another $50m won't hurt. ACAS also has distressed opportunities to pursue, and to the extent ACAS has the cash, there's no reason ACAS shouldn't make good deals. Deals entered at current (depressed) multiples will be great to exit down the road when multiples are higher.
The fact that ACAS had a strong reason not to sell AGNC last year doesn't mean that selling to meet a liquidity need -- a debt maturity -- isn't a good idea now. ACAS makes more on dividends from AGNC than it makes on management fees (a reason others should be happy to own it), but the benefit of retiring debt in an economic environment like this -- while ACAS is in default of debt covenants and needs both to fix its debt-to-equity ratio and to eliminate debt overhead.
The AGNC sale is positive in that it demonstrates ACAS has valuable assets, and that there is genuine appetite by real buyers to pay cash for those assets. Because AGNC is an ACAS-managed fund, it is also a vote of confidence in ACAS' forward management. Both things are good to see from a large bank with strong incentives to do due diligence on $50m investments.