RRP: PRA Gently Turns the Screw (but to what end?)

Introduction

On 19 December 2013, the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) issued Policy Statement PS8/13 together with two Supervisory Statements, SS18/13 on recovery planning, and SS19/13 on resolution planning.  Together, this guidance details the PRA’s final RRP rules for UK banks, building societies and UK designated investment firms. Their publication follows on from the FSA’s original consultation paper (CP11/16) and Feedback Statement (FS12/1).  The final rules are set out in the PRA Rulebook Recovery and Resolution Instrument 2013 (PRA 2013/37), which is annexed to PS8/13 and come into force 1 January 2014. Continue reading

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EU Banking Reform Legislation Expected January 2014

On 11 December 2013, the European Commission published a press release containing remarks made by Michel Barnier, European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services on EU banking structural reform.  Mr Barnier stated that the legislative proposal on EU banking reform will be presented at the beginning of January 2014.  Following the recent publication of the Volcker Rule on 10 December 2013, the Commission will also look at the details of this new rule (see this blog post for more details).  For certain banks deemed too big to fail, he explained that the EU banking reform proposal will consider separation, calibration and treatment of the risks taken by these banks.

SRM Update

On 6 December 2013, the Presidency of the EU Council published its latest compromise proposal (17410/13) with respect to the single resolution mechanism (SRM). Changes to the previous compromise text (17055/13) are highlighted in bold and underlined. The Council has also published a Presidency report (17411/13)  dated 6 December 2013 detailing key outstanding issues relating to the SRM Regulation including: Continue reading

ECB President on SSM

Another speech on the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) from the European Central Bank (ECB) this time by ECB President, Mario Draghi, titled “The future of Europe” was presented in Frankfurt on 22 November 2013. Continue reading

FMLC Provides Additional Commentary on RRD

On 25 October 2013, the Financial Markets Law Committee (FMLC) published a second discussion document on the EU Commission’s General Approach to the proposed Recovery and Resolution Directive (RRD).

The document is generally supportive of the changes made within the General Approach, but highlights a few remaining areas of concern with respect to legal uncertainty, including those set out below:

  • Bail-in: The RRD does not provide a set of principles to guide a resolution authority’s choice as to whether to convert debt to equity or whether to write-down debt.  In addition, contractual bail-in provisions may not operate in the same way as statutory bail-in provisions;
  • Valuation:  It is unclear on what basis the valuation (which must be independent) is to be carried out, notwithstanding that Article 30 of the RRD provides that the valuation should be fair and realistic.  This drafting ambiguity gives rise to legal uncertainty as to the status of a resolution action which is taken when a valuation at the proscribed standard has not been carried out, owing to practical difficulty or impossibility; and
  • General Resolution Powers:  Articles 56(1)(h) and 56(1)(l) of the RRD give a resolution authority the power to cancel or amend the terms of “debt instruments”.  However, this definition is wider than that of “capital instruments” – the term used to describe the instruments that are eligible to be ‘bailed-in’.

SPE and MPE – which are you?

Introduction

On 14 October, the Bank of England published a speech given by Paul Tucker, Deputy Governor Financial Stability, at the Institute of International Finance 2013 Annual Membership meeting on 12 October 2013 on the subject of ‘too big to fail’.

Mr Tucker made five general points:

  1. The US authorities could resolve most US SIFIs right now on a ‘top-down’ basis pursuant to the powers granted under Title II of the Dodd Frank Act;
  2. Single Point of Entry (SPE) versus Multiple Point of Entry (MPE) may be the most important innovation in banking policy in decades;
  3. There is no such thing as a “bail-in bond”.  Bail in is a resolution tool.  All creditors can face having to absorb losses.  What matters is the creditor hierarchy;
  4. Some impediments to smooth cross-border resolution need to be removed; and
  5. The resolution agenda is not just about banks and dealers.  It is about central counterparties too, for example.

Reorganisation

Mr Tucker noted that Europe is not far behind the US in its enactment of resolution powers.  However, of more interest to the industry will be his belief that most banking groups will have to undergo some kind of reorganisation, irrespective of the camp into which they fall.  SPE groups will need to establish holding companies from which loss-absorbing bonds can be issued.  In addition, key subsidiaries will need to issue debt to their holding companies that can be written down in times of distress.  MPE groups will need to do more to organise themselves into well-defined regional and functional subgroups.  In addition common services, such as IT will need to be provided by stand-alone entities that can survive the break-up of an MPE group.  Capital requirements for regional subsidiaries forming part of an MPE group may also be higher due to the absence of a parent/holding company that can act as a source of strength through a resolution process.

Bail-in

On the subject to bail-in, creditors of SPE groups will be interested to read Mr Tucker’s comments about how, within the context of a top-down resolution, bonds issued by a holding company will absorb losses before debt issued by an operating subsidiary.  In effect, the holding company’s creditors are structurally subordinated to the operating company’s creditors.

Impediments to Resolution

On the subject to impediments to cross-border resolution, Mr Tucker noted that, in order to provide clarity on its previous ‘in principle’ commitment, the Bank of England needs to set down detailed conditions under which it would step aside and allow US authorities to resolve the UK subsidiaries of a US banking group.  In turn, other resolution authorities, and particularly the US, need to make the same ‘in principle’ commitment as the Bank of England.

Extension of the Resolution Regime

Finally, on the subject of the resolution agenda, Mr Tucker confirmed that CCPs are the most important example of where resolution regimes need to apply.  However, he did not rule out resolution regimes being extended to cover shadow banking, funds and SPVs.