Thursday 30th October 2014
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THURSDAY TICKER: OCTOBER 30TH 2014: - In ConvergEx’s survey of financial market professional, released today, uust 17% of respondents say they approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president, while 73% said they disapprove. (This compares with a 41% approval/54% disapproval rating for the President in the RealClearPolitics average, 10/8-10/23/2014) Half (50%) of those surveyed give the President a “D” or “F” grade on handling issues of concern to the financial services industry. Opinions of Congress are even lower, with just 8% approving of the job being done by Congress and 81% disapproving. (This compares with a 13% approval/79% disapproval rating for Congress in the RealClearPolitics average, 10/3-10/20/2014. Almost half (46%) give Congress a “D” or “F” grade on handling issues of concern to the financial services industry. 69% of respondents say they would like Republicans to be in control of the Senate following the elections, a figure above even the 65% who say they plan to vote Republican in their own House districts. By 61% to 14%, Republicans are trusted over Democrats on issues impacting the financial services industry. For 8 of 9 market sectors, a higher percentage of respondents said equities would respond positively to a GOP win than to a Democratic win. Only for the Heath Care sector do more investors expect a positive outcome in response to Democrats holding the Senate - The Commercial Bank of Qatar (CBQ) posted a net profit (before deducting minority interest) of QAR503m in 3Q2014, flat QoQ, but 79% higher than a particularly weak 3Q2013. CBQ’s operating income in 3Q2014 increased 16% YoY but dropped 10% QoQ, driven by lower-than-expected results at subsidiary ABank. ABank’s operating income tumbled around 23% QoQ as non-interest income plummeted. For CBQ excluding ABank, operating income stood at around QR 764 million in 3Q2014, up 12% YoY, down 6% QoQ - Moody's has today assigned a provisional (P)B1 corporate family rating (CFR) to Kompania Weglowa SA, the parent company of the group. This provisional rating is subject to the successful completion of the issuance of new notes as currently contemplated by management. Concurrently, Moody's has assigned a provisional (P)B1 rating with a loss-given default (LGD) assessment of 3 (46%) to the senior unsecured notes to be issued by Kompania Weglowa Finance AB (publ), a financing vehicle owned by the company. The outlook on all ratings is stable - ING Group will release its 3Q 2014 results on Wednesday November 5th around 7:00 am CET - AIMCo, Allianz Capital Partners, EDF Invest andHastings have closed its buy of Porterbrook, a UK-based rolling stock leasing company. orterbrook is one of three main rolling stock companies (ROSCOs) in the UK that owns and leases a fleet of passenger and freight rolling stock to Train Operating Companies and Freight Operating Companies under long term contracts. It owns 32 per cent of total passenger rolling stock in the UK. No financial terms were disclosed - Fixed-income markets remain volatile: Europe is challenged, Brazil might struggle, and China is dealing with a potential property bubble. Opportunities nonetheless remain rife for savvy investors, particularly in the high-yield markets. Western Asset believes high-yield should be a key component of any successfully diversified bond portfolio. "We are pretty bullish on credit in general, and high-yield in particular," says Michael Buchanan, head of Global Credit at Western Asset. "Credit is less about the overall economic environment and more about strong corporate fundamentals. Corporations can do well in a mediocre economy, and that seems to be what's happening. Three factors are important right now: the overall economic environment is supportive; strong active management allows us to identify the right opportunities; and valuations are as compelling as they have been in months. This is a good time to take a fresh look at high-yield." Western Asset also believes high-yield products will offer price appreciation as spreads should tighten. On the global economic environment, Mr. Buchanan echoed Western Asset views that interest rates are poised to rise – albeit slowly, and via a process that will be carefully measured. Rates will not be meaningfully higher in the near future, or at least the moves will be gradual – According to Moody’s while the US government's current fiscal position remains relatively healthy, mandatory social spending will begin weakening the current fiscal profile of the US government at the end of the decade. For the next few years, barring another shock like the global financial crisis, the US budget deficit is expected to remain well within historical norms with Federal government debt ratios stable. However, the fiscal implications of the US government's healthcare-related programs likely will put pressure on its credit profile before the end of the decade, absent unexpected and sustained growth in revenue due to higher than expected GDP growth, additional tax increases, or reductions in planned expenditures, says Moody’s.

Investors remain keen even as pfandbrief issue volumes fall

Friday, 09 December 2011
Investors remain keen even as pfandbrief issue volumes fall German covered bonds (pfandbriefe) largely maintained their safe-haven status with investors through the deteriorating financial environment in the second half of 2011, despite an inevitable dramatic slump in primary issuance as markets took fright at developments—or lack of them—in the eurozone. What now? Andrew Cavenagh reports. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

German covered bonds (pfandbriefe) largely maintained their safe-haven status with investors through the deteriorating financial environment in the second half of 2011, despite an inevitable dramatic slump in primary issuance as markets took fright at developments—or lack of them—in the eurozone. What now? Andrew Cavenagh reports.

With just €1.5bn of jumbo pfandbrief issues since the end of June, and none since Eurohypo’s €1bn deal at the end of August, the primary market this year will fall way short of the €87bn recorded in 2010. Verband Deutsche Pfandbriefbanken (VDP), the association of German pfandbrief banks, now reckons the final figure for this year will come out at around €65bn, against its earlier forecast of €90bn, on the back of the €47bn of bonds that were sold in the first six months, including €19.8bn of jumbo transactions.

Pfandbrief spreads have nevertheless remained relatively stable, compared with most other classes of capital market debt and covered bonds elsewhere. While the differential between pfandbriefe and German sovereign debt (bunds) may be approaching historical highs at around 120 basis points (bps), average spreads are still only about 30bps over the mid-swaps benchmark as those on most other covered bonds are well into three figures. “Flight to quality has prevailed, and the pfandbrief has confirmed its benchmark position in the covered-bond market,” maintains a VDP spokesman.



This spread stability looks set to endure through next year. For even if EU authorities take the measures necessary for the bond markets to resume normal functioning, the overall pfandbrief market will continue to shrink, which will tend to support the current spread levels. In the jumbo sector of the market, for instance, most banks are forecasting that primary issuance will be around €26bn while redemptions, although lower than the €44bn this year, will still total €38bn.

Investor confidence in the market received a further boost on November 23rd, when the Moody’s rating agency raised its base-case timely payment indicator for mortgage-backed (hypotheken) bonds issued under the Pfandbrief Act from  “probable high” to “high”. The agency cited the strong legislative and regulatory support for the pfandbrief regime as the reason for its decision, including recent amendments to the act. These require issuers to maintain a so-called liquidity buffer of at least 180 days in respect of their pfandbrief commitments and enhance the powers of a cover-pool administrator in the event of an issuer insolvency. The pfandbrief market is nevertheless facing significant challenges over the next 12 months and beyond, which could yet alter the historical perception—which German banks and financial authorities are keen to maintain—that the instruments trade almost as an homogenous asset class.  

The increasing emphasis that both the rating agencies and investors are placing on the link between issuers and their covered bonds is certainly threatening to create a great deal more discrimination in the market, particularly in the present environment where individual banks’ sovereign exposures are under the microscope.

Moody’s decision to place UniCredit’s covered bonds on review for downgrade a week after it announced it was reviewing the bank’s senior debt rating was a recent example of such linkage. Moreover, the trend could clearly see the spread spectrum in the asset class widen significantly from historical norms. Timo Böhm, portfolio manager and member of the covered bond team at Allianz Pimco in Munich, says the mounting concern over banks’ exposure to the sovereign debt crisis has led to a more pronounced linkage between the spreads on an institution’s covered bonds and those on its senior unsecured debt. “That link to the seniors and the sovereigns is much tighter now, and therefore everybody is looking at what could be the worst case here,” Böhm explained. “Even if the covered bond is rated triple-A, its spreads will widen on these concerns.”

“From our point of view, covered pools should be split,” says Böhm. He points out that banks now price their commercial property loans to reflect the different degrees of risk involved, and that it was not unreasonable for bond investors to require the same consideration. However, issuers continue to oppose the need for such a move. They say the pfandbrief legal framework offers investors adequate protection while the transparency of the cover pools allows them to choose the type of investment that most closely meets their requirements.

“They can decide themselves what kind of strategy suits them best,” says the VDP spokesman. He points to mortgage pfandbriefe backed 100% by residential mortgages: “If you like to take entirely residential mortgage risk, you find such bonds, too,” he says. While that is clearly the case, it is equally evident that issuing banks that have high concentrations of commercial loans in their cover pools are going to have to pay progressively more for the privilege.

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