Monday 30th November 2015
NEWS TICKER, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 27TH: The Taiwan Stock Exchange (TWSE) has launched an online ‘Rules & Regulations Directory’, providing international investors and the media with a centralised location for all 238 Taiwan capital market regulations in both English and Chinese. Regulations available via the Directory include rules for: primary and secondary listings, corporate governance, clearing and settlement, margin trading, ETFs, market monitoring and regulation, among others. The Directory features an easy-to-navigate graphical interface, allowing investors to locate regulations by category or by tree structure, as well as a comprehensive search function that automatically suggests laws and regulations based on key words. The English translation of the regulations was provided by multinational law firms -The European Parliament’s negotiation team has informed the European Commission that it is ready to accept a one-year delay of the entry into force of MiFID II. However, this only applies if the Commission finalises the implementing legislation swiftly and thereby takes into account the European Parliament’s priorities. Furthermore, Commission and ESMA need to come up with a clear roadmap on the implementation work and especially for setting up the IT-systems. That’s telling them! - China shares fell 5.5% in trading today; it’s a big fall, the biggest since August. Analysts say it is related to the regulator’s announced determination to enforce good practice on the securities industry. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 1.9% today and 3% over the week. Elsewhere, Japan shares fell 0.3% after the Nikkei neared the 20000 barrier on Thursday. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.2% and South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.1%. The Straits Times Index (STI) ended 25.57 points or 0.89% lower to 2859.12, taking the year-to-date performance to -15.04%. The top active stocks today were OCBC Bank, which declined 0.46%, SingTel, which declined 0.26%, UOB, which declined 0.10%, DBS, which declined 0.36% and Global Logistic, with a 2.44% fall. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index declined 0.48%, while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index rose 0.03%.Brent crude was last down 0.2% at $45.38 a barrel. U.S. oil prices fell 0.4% on Thursday amid signs of robust US production despite data showing a lower-than-expected increase in US oil inventories and a decline in the number of working oil-rigs in the country. Gold prices were down 0.3% at $1,066.70 a troy ounce - The EBRD has extended a total of $70m in loans to Mongolia’s Khan Bank, aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The EBRD package will include financing for SMEs and their value chains, sustainable energy projects designed to improve energy efficiency, a risk-sharing facility that will help Khan Bank clients access longer-term financing, and an increase in the trade finance facility, which helps companies perform export and import operations. The sustainable energy part of the financing package, which is $10m, is part of the special financing framework, Mongolian Sustainable Energy Financing Facility. The EBRD has such facilities in many countries of operations; they are part of the Bank’s drive for green economy transition. The EBRD is also providing technical cooperation as part of the sustainable energy financing portion, funded by the multi-donor EBRD Shareholder Special Fund. Khan Bank, which has around 500 offices across Mongolia, is one of the largest commercial banks in the country. The loan agreements were signed by Khan Bank CEO Norihiko Kato and the head of the EBRD office in Mongolia, Matthieu Le Blan.

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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.

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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