A collateralized fund obligation (CFO) is a form of securitization involving private equity fund or hedge fund assets, similar to collateralized debt obligations. CFOs are a structured form of financing for diversified private equity portfolios, layering several tranches of debt ahead of the equity holders.
The data made available to the rating agencies for analyzing the underlying private equity assets of CFOs are typically less comprehensive than the data for analyzing the underlying assets of other types of structured finance securitizations, including corporate bonds and mortgage-backed securities. Leverage levels vary from one transaction to another, although leverage of 50% to 75% of a portfolio's net assets has historically been common.
The various CFO structures executed in recent years have had a variety of different objectives resulting in a variety of different structures. These differences tend to relate to the amount of equity sold through the structure as well as to the leverage levels.
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