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Read on for chronological listing of events, most recent on top:


Eurotunnel raises GBP 892 million by securitisation

According to a report in Les Eschos France of 23 Feb., 2001, Eurotunnel has securitised receivables to raise GBP 892 million from the capital markets. The issue was lead managed by Merrill Lynch and Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein to refinance part of Franco-British channel tunnel operator Eurotunnel's junior debt, and has attracted numerous investors.

A notable feature of the offering is that not only the senior tranches totaling GBP232 million and 365 million euros were well received, but even the junior tranches worth GBP230 million were easily placed. The senior tranche was rated AAA and the junior tranches were rated A-, BBB and BB-.

Indonesia to securitise future flows on gas sales

According to a report in Business Times of Singapore of 26th Feb., Indonesia has invited global financial institutions to handle a proposed securitisation of bonds collateralised by natural gas sales from its West Natuna field to Singapore. A couple of Singapore banks, including DBS Bank, are expected to have joined global institutions like Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Warburg and Morgan Stanley in submitting their proposals.

In what the Indonesian government called "structured export notes", the notes will be backed by future export sales. The amount could go upto USD 500 million.

The Indonesian government also did not state what the money would be used for, but it is understood that it would be used to settle part of its massive foreign debts totalling US$134 billion. Jakarta is also likely to securitise its proposed natural gas sales to Singapore Power from the Asamera gas fields in South Sumatra. Indonesia will generate over US$7 billion over 20 years starting from the year 2003 from this contract.

Links For more on securitisation in Indonesia, see our country page here.

Grateful thanks This and the following newsfeed was provided by Mr G N Setty from Sydney. We appreciate this, and similar contributions by visitors from all over.

Indian aviation company uses securitisation to raise USD 355 million

According to a news report appearing in Business Line of 24th Feb., India's private aviation company Jet Airways has raised USD 355 million (Rs. 1600 crores) from domestic investors.

The report says that Standard Chartered Bank has, along with UTI Bank, as lead arrangers, placed credit-enhanced pass through certificates (PTCs) of Rs 1,600 crore with UTI, LIC, Bank of Maharashtra and HDFC Bank. State Bank of India has credit-enhanced the PTC by guaranteeing the principal and interest on the PTCs.

It appears from the Press Reports that Jet Airways will be using an SPV to give these aircraft on hire purchase to Jet Airways, and the hire purchase rentals will be securitised by the SPV, thus raising the funds needed to buy the aircraft. Hire purchase is an type of financial lease. With the proceeds of the rentals, the SPV will provide to Jet Airways on hire purchase 10 new Boeing 737 aircraft.

The transaction is guaranteed by US Exim Bank and the rupee part is the single-largest securitisation deal in the domestic market. It was also the first US Exim-backed transaction which raises rupees, the release said. The door-to-door tenor of the PTCs is 12 years (seven year average) and a draw-down period of 30 months. Interest rates will float in a band of 60 basis points until the time of draw- down of each of the 10 tranches. They would be fixed at a margin over the 7-year Government security. Jet Airways had struck a deal with Boeing to buy 10 new 737s at a total cost of $420 million. US Exim agreed to guarantee 85 per cent of the funding. The US Exim guarantee was used to raise dollar funds and placed with SBI as collateral against which SBI issued a guarantee to investors in PTCs. The aircraft will be acquired by an overseas special purpose vehicle and given to Jet on hire purchase. The future hire purchase rentals of the airline denominated in rupees were securitised to issue PTCs for raising rupee funds. The deal allowed Jet to have only rupee obligations avoiding dollar risk and US Exim to avoid rupee risk.

Links For more on securitisation scenario in India, see our country page here.

Canadian mortgage securitization agency to use bonds to buy mortgages

The Canadian mortgage securitisation agency, Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) will soon use bonds to buy mortgages. The bonds are designed to convert the monthly cash inflows from mortgages into non-amortising bonds that will provide attractive investment opportunity to investors. The principal on the bonds will be paid only on maturity, while pass through certificates amortise every month.

Canada Mortgage Bonds represent the latest evolution for mortgage funding in Canada. They provide an attractive fixed income investment opportunity featuring semi annual interest payments, repayment of principal at maturity, and a CMHC timely payment guarantee, backed by the Government of Canada. The bonds will be issued through a newly created special purpose trust known as the Canada Housing Trust. The Trust sells bonds to investors and uses the proceeds to purchase mortgages. Under the CMB program, the Trust transforms monthly cash flows from NHA MBS pools into non-amortizing bond cash flows. CMHC guarantees the mortgages to the SPV.

It is expected that the bonds will allow for more retail and institutional investment in Canadian residential mortgages, while providing investors with high quality, easily tradable guaranteed investments.

Links For more on securitisation in Canada, see our country page on Canada here.

Securitisation, with IFC backing, to fund IT education in India

It is a potent case of securitisation being used to fund one of the most important capital asset of our times – knowledge. Citibank has tied up with software education company NIIT to fund IT education in India. The deal is the first case of use of securitisation for education funding in India, and also the first major organised attempt to fund IT education in a country that commands global edge in the field.

Under the proposed deal, Citibank will provide funds of USD 90 million to students fo NIIT under NIIT's flagship three-year IT training program, christened iGNIIT. NIIT is one of the IT education majors in the country.

The program uses a structured risk sharing pattern with the first loss risk of 11% being absorbed by NIIT as the originator. IFC will absorb mezzanine risk to the extent of next 10%. The balance of the funding to come from capital markets is virtually risk free, with 21% of the risk having been hived off already.

Gain-on-sale accounting, or how to make unhatched chickens fly

A recent article in Forbes (Feb. 19, 2001 issue) gives an example of the arbitrary gain-on-sale accounting for securitisations. Earlier, on this site, we have carried several reports and comments on gain-on-sale accounting.

Essentially, US securitization accounting standard FASB 140, which is the most detailed set of accounting principles for securitization and has coloured the approach of IAS 32/39 as well, provides for a securitization originator to account for on books retained interests in securitizations. These retained interests would primarily be the value of (a) any liabilities on account of recourse; and (b) retained interests in form of subordinate or interest-only or any other fraction of the transaction, not sold off to investors. Generally, the originator is also the first-loss protection provider, and therefore, would have the right to share the residuary cashflows after all fixed-income investors are fully serviced. The accounting standard permits the value of such retained interests to be captured on the books of the originator. Since the value of the retained interests, and the resulting gain-on-sale of receivables, is subject to the actual portfolio performance, losses, defaults and prepayments, there is a great degree of subjectivity in the valuation of retained interests.

The Forbes article gives an example of this arbitrary profit-booking. It talks of an Atlanta-based company called CompuCredit which issues Aspire Visa cards to consumers with marginal credit histories. The interest rate on these cards is 28%. Despite the rate, the company has had no trouble finding customers who want the cards. It has 1.9 million accounts with a collective $1.3 billion balance.

The article says that in CompuCredit's case, 10% of its pretax profits comes from gain-on-sale accounting and nearly 90% comes from the interest-only strips, the value of which is also based on securitization accounting standards. "To calculate profits that are still to come, the card issuer makes guesses about future losses from bad loans and about how long the average account will stay on the books throwing off interest. The resulting hypothetical earnings are discounted back into today's dollars and called profit", says the article. "How do you foretell the future when you don't know when or if a recession will hit? Let's just say this kind of profit-and-loss statement is more art than science. "

In the meantime, the Financial Accounting Standards Board is seeming undeterred by such critique. While it recently replaced the securitization accounting standard by a new-look FASB 140, it did not re-examine its gain-on-sale policy. Recently [on Jan 30, 2001], the FASB staff has put on its website a worksheet that shows how securitization accountants are expected to compute fair value of gain on sale. The spreadsheet advises accountants to assign probability values to bad, unfavourable, most likely and favourable scenarios and compute present values of cash flows under either case, and thus work out a probability-weighted value of the retained interest.

However, analysts feel that since the entire work is still based on future-gazing, it is violative of one basic principle that accountants have learnt over years: conservatism, which advises accountants not to book a profit based on guesswork, though losses are to be provided for based on anticipation.

Links See articles on gain-on-sale accounting by Martin Rosenblatt and others in our articles section. Also there are several news reports on news pages about arbitrary profit booking by gain-on-sale including failure/closure of some banks on such grounds.

Ernst and Young is optimistic about CMBS markets

Ernst and Young (EY), international accounting firm, recently put up a report which expresses optimism about the growth of international CMBS markets. According to EY, "the overriding goal behind the creation of the commercial mortgage backed securities (CMBS) market – to provide a stable source of liquidity to the commercial real estate industry in the United States in all economic cycles – has been achieved".

EY is optimistic about the growth of CMBS outside of the United States. In year 2000, CMBS issuance outside the U.S. reached USD 12 billion, up from USD 9.8 billion in 1999 and only USD 600 million in 1998. On the other hand, issuance within the United States has leveled off at about USD 50 billion.

Here are the key highlights of the CMBS market's activity in 2000:

  • Issuance of new mortgage backed bonds in the U.S. fell for the second straight year, from a high of $77.7 billion in 1998 to $58.5 billion in 1999 and $48.9 billion in 2000.
  • However, the rate of the decline in 2000 was less than in 1999 and was in line with market expectations.
  • About 20% of all outstanding commercial and multifamily mortgages in the U.S. have now been securitized.

Links For more on commercial mortgage backed securities, please do see our page here.

Munich Re issues cat bonds

Munich Re has issued USD 300 million worth cat bonds that protect it against super-catastrophes such as exposure to hurricanes in Florida and New York, earthquakes in California and windstorms in Europe.

The deal is based on parametric triggers: that is triggers which are based on objective parameters and not the actual loss suffered by the insurance company. For example, in greater Miami and greater New York, triggers are based on the central pressure of hurricanes making landfall along specified sections of coastline. For the San Francisco Bay and greater Los Angeles areas, triggers are based on earthquake magnitudes within several areas surrounding sources of major tectonic activity. The European windstorm trigger is a weighted index calculated from wind speeds measured at 600 stations across five countries in Western Europe.

Risk modeling company Risk Management Solutions provided the risk analysis, and Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and American Re Securities Corp. placed the bonds.

Links: For more on cat bonds, click on our page on risk securitisation here.

German tax law proposals may spell problems for SPV taxation

One of the prime reasons for locating an SPV in an offshore jurisdiction, normally a tax haven, is to avoid double tax on the residuary income, that is, the income that remains after paying off interest on the notes. However, to escape the tax, the SPV should be treated as a non-resident for tax purposes. To be treated as non-resident, tax rules normally require that the SPV should not have a business in the host country.

Certain German states are now proposing that since securitization SPVs carry servicing functions in the host country, they should be treated as residents in Germany, and hence, subject to German taxation.

A recent report by Standard and Poor's analysed this eventuality and felt that the proposed change may not affect synthetic securitisations, which are incidentally quite popular with German banks, but may affect several deals.

US law firms to securitise tobacco settlement legal fees

Last year, when we commented on this: we said – why wait for years, if you can have it today. In our age of impatience, waiting is the biggest sin. Realising this, US law firms have decided to securitise their legal fees in the multi-billion tobacco settlement and raise cash upfront from Wall Street.

The first offering, of USD 295 million, might be hitting the market in February. The SPV is called called "Litigation Settlement Monetized Fee Trust" (LSMFT). The offering will be a 144a offer: and will consist of two classes of notes — a $250 million five-year tranche and a $45 million 10-year tranche. Deutsche Bank Securities will be the underwriter. Investor roadshows have already begun. The offering's five-year tranche will likely be rated Aa3 by Moody's Investors Service and single-A by Fitch and Standard & Poor's. The 10-year tranche will likely be rated A2 by Moody's and single-A by Fitch and S&P.

Market practitioners agree that this is the first time that legal fees are being securitised. Before this, David Pullman has introduced bonds backed by revenues of musicians and the like.

Links: There are several news items on our previous news pages about the tobacco bonds in the US – click herehere and here.

European telecom utilities increasingly look at securitisation

A report in Financial Times 1 Feb. 2001 says that European telecom utilities, seeking to fund billions of Euros, are all set to make the most of securitization markets. Telecom Italia will be the first to test this market, with marketing due to start in the coming weeks for Euros 1bn worth of debt backed by telephone bill receipts.

A similar proposal is at advanced stage of consideration by France Telecom.

Deutsche Telekom has set up a joint venture with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and Corpus, a real estate company that aims to release cash from the telecoms group's real estate portfolio. This will be achieved through the sale of properties, the creation of real estate funds and asset-backed securitisation.

Links For news items on similar deals from electricity and railway companies, click here.

Europe set for strong securitisation growth

A report in Financial Times, London, 26th Jan., 2001 predicts a strong growth in securitisation volumes in Europe. Investors have growth nervous with increasing number of defaults in straight coporate debt, and are looking for a shelter in securitisation markets where there have been no defaults till date.

In the meantime, rating agency Standard and Poor's reports an 86% surge in ABS volumes in Europe, recorded at USD143 billion. With growing supply of ABS paper, the demand has also been growing correspondingly. One of the interesting features is the bouyant demand for low-rated paper, where spreads are good and there have been no defaults as yet.

The use of credit derivatives emerged as even a stronger feature of European securitisation growth in 2000. The S&P report records a 32% of the total issuance to be based on use of credit derivatives. European securitisation practice makes use of synthetic securitisation [for details see our page here] where the reference portfolio for which the risks are transferred is several times the amount of actual funding raised. These unfunded transfers are not included in the volume of securitisation reported.

Which are the main growth pockets for securitisation in Europe? The S&P report says that while the U.K. remains the principal engine room of the European securitization market, 2000 saw a significant leap in volumes from the continent–Germany and Italy being particularly active. The continental European securitization market has expanded significantly, supported by improving legislation, the single currency environment, and the drive for opportunities provided by credit derivative technology.

Deloitte Touche sweeps accounting firm awards

International Securitization Report's best accounting firm for securitization awards have been swept by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (DTT). DTT swept all three First Place categories for Best Securitisation Accounting Firm in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu is a provider of global securitization services such as: due diligence, cash flow modeling, collateral stratification analysis, accounting and tax advice, surveillance, technology support, and financial statement audits. The group's practitioners have worked on over 7,000 securitization transactions in over 20 countries. In anticipation of increased securitization activity throughout the world, Deloitte has established a network of seasoned professionals in 41 countries to meet the specific needs and expectations of its clients.

International Securitization Report (ISR) annually gives awards in several categories to agencies involved in securitisation practice. This year, ISR polled over 11,000 securitization professionals including: subscribers, issuers, investors and other securitization service providers.

The award relating to accounting firm in Asia Pacific is a new feather in DTT's cap as this is the first year that DTT has won this award. As far as Europe is concerned, it is the third consecutive year, and the second consecutive year for North America.

Vinod Kothari adds: Congratulations, DTT! DTT's contribution to the news and articles on this site, particularly from Marty Rosenblatt, has been very helpful. We wish DTT all the best.

Reverse mortgages in forward gear

Reverse mortgages are growing fast in the US and many market players expect this market to have a sustained growth as senior citizens use it as a decent way of adding to their social security payments. A reverse mortgage is one where a borrower, typically a citizen over 60, receives payments every month from the mortgage lender against the value of the house he or she owns, and when he or she dies or moves from the house, the house is taken over by the lender. It is called a reverse mortgage, because unlike in a normal mortgage loan where the borrower makes monthly payments to the lender, here the lender makes monthly payments to the borrower. The concept of reverse mortgage is explained in our page here.

A recent article in Barron's Jan 8, 2001 kicks off with the story of a US lady who took a reverse mortgage loan 3 years ago at the age of 71 against her house valued USD 88000. She has been receiving payment of USD 283 from the lender. Mother of 12 and grandmother of many more, she is keeping herself perfectly fit and active, and hopes she will live to be 95. That is exactly what her bankers hate about it, because in a reverse mortgage, the longer the borrower lives, the bank loses.

The growing popularity of reverse mortgages is evident from the fact that over last 15 years, about 50000 such loans have been written, of which 40000 were written over last 5 years.

Among many others, Lehman is optimistic about the prospects of reverse mortgages, based on simple data. There are more than 12.6 million households in the age group of 65 plus. There are also 16.7 million homeowners under 65 who have little or no mortgage debt. Ultimately, many of them could become tempted to sign up for a reverse mortgage. This represents a pool of home equity of between $3 trillion and $4 trillion that might be used as collateral for reverse mortgages.

Lehman in August 1999 securitised reverse mortgage loans.

Links See our page on reverse mortgage loans here. See our page generally on RMBS here.

US ABS market ends 2000 with 9% growth

It seemed as if year 2000 will go into red and break the record of sustained positive growth by US securitisation market, but the last quarter of the year came as face-saver, or rather, grace-saver. According to Thomson Financial Securities Data, the year ended with USD 299 billion of new-issue volume, a 9% jump over the USD 275 billion recorded in 1999.

The last quarter showed a very strong performance with USD 78 billion volume.

Earlier, there were apprehensions that year 2000 would not augur too well for securitisation industry – see our report here.

With Citibank's pioneering position, Salomon SB was at the top of the league of securitization arrangers. J.P. Morgan/Chase Manhattan combine was at number two and Credit Suisse First Boston/Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette at number three.

Korean airlines securitises future ticket sales

South Korean airline Asiana raied USD 65 million in first securitisation of future flows to emanate from South Korea. The transaction, closed on 29th Dec., was lead managed by Chase Manhattan.

The transaction has only one tranche, and is backed by present and future ticket sales revenues denominated in dollars, arising from the US. The SPV has been domicilined in Ireland to receive payments from American Express, Diners Club and Pacific Union Bank from passengers booking tickets in the US. Pacific Union will make payments on behalf of Visa and MasterCard.

Fitch rated the deal BB, one notch above Asiana's unsecured rating. The notes have a five year maturity and an average life of 2.6 years. The coupon is 8.92% with an issue price of 97.40.

The other ticket sale securitisation to emanate from Asia was Philippine Airlines. Philippine Airlines went for debt restructuring, default of rentals on leased aircraft, etc., but securitisation investors have remained unimpaired.

Links For more on future flow securitisation, click on our page here.

Where are the cats: enthu for cat bonds is dying down

Where are all the cats? A market that seemed promising enough in 1996 and 1997 so that many observers predicted the end of the traditional reinsurance business, now seems to be a non-starter. An article by Perry DeFontaine in Best's Review Jan 2001 says that the cat bonds market is not picking up any further and traditional reinsurance continues to be the standard.

Perry says: "When the first cat bonds were issued, there was tremendous enthusiasm. For insurers, transferring catastrophe risk to the estimated $30 trillion-plus global capital markets could solve capacity and credit-risk concerns, as well as ultimately reduce the overall costs of reinsurance. Investors were attracted by the opportunity for higher yields plus diversification due to the noncorrelated nature of catastrophic risks. Excitement was so high there were even predictions of the end of the catastrophe reinsurance market; these reinsurers were stating that if the cat bond market took off, they would simply transform themselves from premium-based risk takers to fee-based catastrophe risk consultants."

But then, cat bonds no more have the same appeal that they had when they first appeared. Perry sees the reason in the high costs of cat structures, which are a complicated process involving legal costs, SPV costs, etc. On the other hand, traditional reinsurance has ample capacity as of now, having low costs.

The other difficulty is model risk of catastrphes, which was an essential feature in the success of securitisation as the risk was easily defined.

Vinod Kothari adds: Cat bond issuance in year 2000 has been at a very low level as compared to the past, but the cat technology has quickly been grabbed by several other asset classes which continue to use it increasingly. For example, synthetic securitisations involving risk transfers. Securitisation as a device of risk transfer in other fields also continues to hold a promise. A survey by Dentonhall Wilde Saptetitled The ART Survey 2000 concludes based on a survey of market participants: "Credit products – especially where banks are end users – are clearly the fastest growing area of the ART marketplace. According to respondents, they will continue to be the fastest growing area for near future. Risk financing products – in the form of finite products – were a clear second".

Links For more cat bonds and risk securitisation, see our page here.

BIS reconstructs regulatory proposals for securitisation

The Basle-based international bank regulatory body Bank for International Settlements (BIS) on 16th Jan. published revised proposals for securitisation regulation by financial supervisors. These proposals are a part of the revised capital adequacy framework that has been suggested by the BIS.

Earlier, in June last year, the BIS had published proposed capital adequacy framework, to replace the existing standard based on a 1988 concordat. The June 2000 proposals were put for public comment. BIS was expected t to finalise the regulatory proposals in this January, but "reflecting those comments and the results of ongoing dialogue with the industry and supervisors worldwide", BIS decided to frame a more detailed, more concrete set of proposals.

The proposals include a detailed set of regulations for securitisation transactions spanning over 32 pages. While the June 2000 proposals were based on investing banks' perspective, the present set of proposals include regulatory proposals for originating banks, investing banks and sponsoring banks. There is also a set of regulatory proposals for synthetic securitisation.

A write up on the revised regulatory proposals by Vinod Kothari is here on this site.

The revised proposals are now for public comment by end-May. They are expected to be finalised by end of 2001 and implemented by beginning of 2004.

Links For text of the securitisation regulatory proposals, click here. For text of the complete proposals on capital adequacy, click here. For an article by Vinod Kothari on the proposals, see here.