EBA publishes consultation on synthetic excess spread

The European Banking Authority has just launched a consultation on the treatment of "synthetic excess spread" or "SES".

The issue of the capital treatment of synthetic excess spread in the context of synthetic STS securitisation is a topic that is as arcane as it is important.

We will not review here the arguments and possible approaches as this would take way more space that is appropriate for a news item.  To summarise, though, in a synthetic securitisation the originator and the investor can agree to an amount which will be deducted from any losses suffered on the securitised pool before the investor is required to make a protection payment.  This is designed to replicate synthetically the effect of "excess spread" in a cash deal, where a lender does not suffer real cash losses if the interest paid on performing assets is sufficient to compensate for losses on the defaulting assets.  Since this amount is just an agreed number (rather than, as in a cash deal, the actual cash received from borrowers) it is called "synthetic excess spread".

Synthetic excess spread is controversial and viewed with suspicion by regulators as it can, in theory, be used to generate regulatory arbitrage.

During the passage of the amendment to the Securitisation Regulation that ushered in synthetic STS, some voices were raised advocating the banning of any use of SES in STS synthetic transactions.  Many, including PCS, argued that this was unnecessary and illogical since the device, properly deployed, only replicated synthetically a totally uncontroversial aspect of true sale securitisation.  The compromise chosen by the legislators was to allow it but impose a capital cost on its use.  We expressed the view at the time that this was the wrong answer and that a perfectly good answer had been suggested by the EBA itself in its original report which we were happy to endorse.  But there we are.

Having chosen the solution of a capital cost for the SES, the legislators then left it to the EBA to come up with an amount.  This consultation, deadline 14 October, solicits the market's views on the proposed EBA approach to calculating that amount.  PCS will, of course, be responding.

EBA publishes consultation on updated homogeneity

The European Banking Authority has just launched a consultation on the homogeneity of the underlying exposures in STS securitisation.

The consultation is addressing the issue of the homogeneity in the context of synthetic STS securitisation. Although the scope is extended to also cover on-balance-sheet (synthetic) securitisations, at the same time it establishes the same criteria for the assessment of homogeneity for all securitisations.

More specifically, given the relevance of corporate and SME loans in the context of synthetic securitisations, adjustments have been made to the type of obligor to reflect the current market practices and the credit risk assessment approaches applied to those asset types.

At the same time the in the proposal, we see that similar changes are made to the respective homogeneity factor for all relevant asset types. The proposal further specifies the asset type for credit facilities provided to enterprises, where similar underwriting standards are applied as for individuals.

This consultation, deadline 28 October, solicits the market's views on the proposed EBA approach.  PCS will, of course, be responding.

EBA publishes excellent report of "Green Securitisation"

Today the European Banking Authority released its Report on Developing a Framework for Sustainable Securitisation.  This report was requested by the co-legislators who asked the EBA to outline how they would envisage a regime for green securitisation.

Although PCS still has to review the report in detail, a first look suggests that the EBA should be commended for the logical, coherent and fair approach it has brought to bear of this subject.

First, the EBA has concluded that there is no need or rationale for having a conceptually different approach to the definition and regulation of green securitisations from that of capital market instruments generally.   PCS had expressed a concern over the asynchronicity of the work on green securitisation and the work of green capital market instruments in general in the context of the legislative passage of the EU Green Bond Standard.  Specifically the accidental request that the EBA define “green securitisations” as a sub-category of capital market instruments before the EU had settled on a definiton of “green capital market instruments” as a whole.  The EBA wisely concluded that this made little sense and that securitisations should be regulated under the same conceptual umbrella as all other capital market instruments.

Secondly, flowing from the first point, the EBA has agreed that a green securitisation should be defined, like any other green bond, by the use made of the proceeds of the issuance rather than by the green nature of the securitised assets.  PCS strongly approves of this approach as we have pointed out publicly that any other would lead to deeply illogical consequences and reduce the amount of financing to the green transition.

The EBA also suggests that this proceeds based approach might be a transitional one until we have greened the European economy. There is a lot to be said for this view.

Finally, the EBA has pointed out that there is a technical amendment required to the current draft of the EU Green Bond Standard legislative text to ensure that the proceeds the use of which defines a green securitisation are the proceeds in the hands of the originator and not the special purpose vehicle.  The same point had been made by the ECB and a number of market participants (including PCS).  This appears not to be a political issue but merely (if crucially) a matter of getting the drafting right.

On synthetic green securitisation and social securitisation (the "S" in "ESG"), the EBA suggests more work needs to be done.   This seems reasonable to us at PCS.

This is a well thought through and excellent report that deserved to be a building block on the path to mobilising the securitisation market in financing the desperately needed ecological transition

Monday sees important announcements from the EBA on SRT and the FCA on STS

Monday saw two important announcements from European regulators.

First, the UK Financial Conduct Authority went live with its new STS notification platform.  As of 11 pm on 31st December, UK securitisations will no longer be STS in the hands of UK investors unless they appear in a new publicly available list hosted by the FCA and replacing the ESMA list to which all securitisations were previously notified.  To avoid a problematic interregnum between the time the new rules come into force at the end of the year and the time it takes for UK transactions previously notified to ESMA to be published on the new FCA website, the FCA very wisely and helpfully launched their new UK STS platform this Monday.  This will allow UK originators and sponsors to “pre-populate” the STS list in anticipation of January 1st.  Please note, though, that it is the responsibility of originators and sponsors to re-notify their transactions.  There will be no automatic transcription of the ESMA notifications on to the FCA site.   Instructions on how to access the FCA site (called Connect) and the new templates can be found here

In a separate development, the EBA just published its much anticipated report on significant risk transfer.

One of the developments of recent years has been the beginning of a return by securitisation to its roots as a capital management tool for banks.  The new legislative proposal on STS for synthetics, currently in trilogue in Brussels, is one part of this.   But another necessary component of a regulatory scheme that allows proper capital management by financial institutions is a workable set of rules for significant risk transfer or SRT.  These are the rules which must be followed before prudential regulators accept that the risk associated with securitised assets has been transferred to the securitisation investors and the bank can therefore reduce the capital allocated against those assets.  The EBA’s report sets out their proposals for the future of these rules.  It is essential, if STS synthetic securitisation is to be of any use, that the new SRT rules mesh with the proposed STS requirements to allow safe but sensible capital management.  The report is fairly long and will be examined with great care by market participants (including PCS).

EBA publishes its final paper on STS and synthetics

The EBA has published its final paper on whether and how the STS framework could be made to encompass synthetic securitisations.  This paper drafted by the EBA at the request of the European Commission, is the technical advice provided to the latter to enable the Commission to write the report commissioned by the European Parliament on the topic.  It follows on the discussion paper of September 2019 and shows the evolution of the EBA’s thinking.

Although we have yet fully to digest this paper, a number of things stand out (beyond the very kind and positive name-check of PCS on page 8).  First, the EBA – somewhat tentatively – has endorsed the idea of a lower capital requirement for synthetic STS securitisations.  This only would extend, in the EBA’s view, to the senior tranches retained by the originator.  It would also be limited to certain asset classes.  Although the intellectual justification for these limitations is not totally convincing, it should allow the synthetic securitisation market to assist in the safe and efficient use by European banks of their capital.  The absence of any proposal along those lines was the most glaring gap in the original discussion paper.

At a technical level, the EBA has also finally come round to the view that it is permissible in an STS synthetic securitisation to use some defined amount of excess spread, making the treatment of these transactions more commensurate with true sale securitisations.

A brief glance at the other STS criteria proposed for synthetics does not show any obvious change from the discussion paper which was – subject to the excess spread point – a reasonable approach to the challenges.

This paper may also be read with the paper on the calculation of weighted average maturities also published this week by the EBA, as the WAM calculations will also play a key role in determining the capital requirements of senior tranches of synthetic securitisations and therefore the viability of the synthetic securitisation market in Europe.  

This paper is another step in the direction of finalising the STS reforms as many market participants have suggested it is essential to do and as advocated in PCS’ recent paper.

Securitisation regulation, the next chapter: EBA launches consultation on synthetic securitisation

Today, the EBA released a consultation on synthetic securitisation and STS.

This two months consultation is designed to inform the EBA in the preparation of a report that it has been instructed to prepare by the European Commission on how an STS standard may be crafted for synthetic/risk transfer securitisations.  This report, in turn, was requested of the Commission by the European Parliament.  The European Parliament was looking into the possibilities of introducing a similar scheme to that of the current STS regime which is today only available for “true sale” securitisations. 

Although  this may seem, at first glance, a fairly dry, technical and even arcane subject, the stakes are in reality very high.  In the era of substantially increasing capital requirements for banks and in a continent where 75% of all financing is still sourced from banking institutions, the availability of synthetic/risk transfer securitisations and the terms of this availability will play a key role in shaping the overall architecture of European finance and in the scope of the banking sector’s capacity to fund growth in the economy.

PCS, with the launch of its Risk Transfer Label last year, is already helping to address these issues and hopes to continue contributing  usefully to this debate.

EBA goes digital on STS

Yesterday the EBA announced that it had added the STS Regulation to its online Interactive Single Rulebook and Q&A.

In addition to allowing market participants (and members of the general public with odd tastes for arcane financial regulations) to access the EBA’s guidelines, this will also enable them to ask questions on any aspect of the criteria where it is felt require clarification under the EBA’s continuing power to issue guidelines.

In PCS’ experience this will be a vital tool, going forward as we can attest to the not unsubstantial number of issues of a highly technical nature that arise in our verification work.  This latest development by the EBA is very welcome indeed.

EBA publishes STS homogeneity and retention RTS'

The EBA has just published the draft STS homogeneity regulatory technical standard.  PCS has only had the chance to give this just published text a cursory look, but it would seem that the final document stays very close to the draft which had been the subject of the consultation.  With regard to the somewhat problematical fourth test relating to relevant risk factors though the EBA has introduced some welcome amendments.  Together with the STS homogeneity RTS, the EBA also published the regulatory technical standard on risk retention.

Strictly speaking, both these documents are drafts.  They are now in the hands of the European Commission.  The Commission must then decide if they are satisfied with these draft, at which point they will lay down the RTS for a 2 month review by the European Parliament and the European Council.  This review takes place only by way of a veto power.  In other words, neither the Parliament nor the Council may amend the text, but they do have the power to reject it.  However, the highly technical nature of these two draft RTS' suggests that this is unlikely and therefore, we should anticipate these two RTS' to become law sometime in the autumn.

No, we’re not there yet!

It has been a long and winding road towards the STS regime and many are weary.  However, we are not quite there yet.  Two key issues remain.  The first is the issue of the interpretation of the STS criteria, which is the subject matter of an EBA consultation.  The second is the data disclosure requirements, within the purview of ESMA.  Getting these two issues right remains a key necessary step to a viable and, hopefully, vibrant European securitisation market.

This is why PCS would like to remind all stakeholders of the upcoming public hearing to be held by the EBA on June 11th in London on their consultation regarding the interpretation of the STS criteria.  Although, in our estimation, the EBA has produced overall very sensible and positive suggestions in their consultation, on a few points changes would be welcome and, at times, necessary.

The EBA has extended the registration deadline to 29th May and so we encourage all those who have yet to register and feel, as we do, that there are still important issues to clarify to attend and add their voices to the debate.


EBA consultation on STS criteria interpretation is released

Today the EBA released its consultation on the interpretations of the STS criteria (other than the homogeneity criterion which is the subject of a separate exercise).

The EBA's guidelines and recommendations on interpreting the STS criteria which, under the STS Regulation, must be published by 18th October, 2018 are an essential part of the new STS infrastructure.  Without them it will be impossible to determine what the requirements would be for a securitisation to be STS.  Strong and sensible guidelines would provide a major boost to the likelihood of a successful STS regime and a commensurate growth in a safe European securitisation market.  At the same time, over-complex or unrealistic guidelines could dramatically reduce the chances of the STS regime delivering hoped for benefits to the European economy.

All stakeholders in the European securitisation should therefore take a keen interest in this consultative exercise.  The deadline for submissions is 20th July.  A public hearing is also scheduled for the 11th June.