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

S&P downgrades Hollywood 4, retains 
AAA for Lexington Capital

The Lexington Capital – Hollywood Funding controversy continues. In a press release of 30th March, Standard and Poor's (S&P) downgraded Hollywood Funding 4 from AAA to BB, as Lexington Capital, the insurer, continues to maintain that it had a valid defence on account of failure of warranties.

Lexington's position is that its policy is identical in all material respects to the policy interpreted in the U.K. case known as HIH Casualty and General Insurance Ltd. v. New Hampshire Insurance Company and others, in which the court held that breach of warranty issues, coverage issues, and fraud can properly be raised as defenses to payment. The decision is on appeal before the Court of Appeal.

The rating agency, however, "believes that the policies are absolute and unconditional, that there are no conditions or warranties that need to be satisfied in order to draw on the policies (other than the money in the escrow account being insufficient), that Lexington has waived all of its defenses to payment on the policies, and that the policies meet the standards of the capital market for credit enhancement of financial market instruments."

In another press release of 30th March, S&P affirmed the rating of Lexington as AAA. The affirmation follows "a review prompted by the recent position taken by Lexington on the insurance policies issued in connection with the Hollywood Funding No. 5 and No. 6 film finance transactions rated by Standard & Poor's and the resulting commercial dispute regarding policy coverage. The ratings on these transactions were recently lowered (see press release of Feb. 2, 2001). Should the dispute be resolved in favor of the insured, Standard & Poor's expects that Lexington would honor its obligations under those policies. In view of this, Standard & Poor's believes that AIG's market position is not adversely affected by these coverage disputes. "

Korean company in first cross-border performing asset securitisation

Korean finance company Samsung Capital will securitise auto loan receivables in an interesting transaction credit-enhanced by Financial Security Assurance (FSA). Standard and Poor's has assigned AAA rating to the transaction, which it says "marks the first Korean cross-border securitization of auto loans" to originate from Korea.

The USD 187.5 million transaction follows this structure: the loans are originated by Samsung and sold to Credit Creator, a limited liability SPV formed in Korea. Credit Creator has issued a credit linked note to Credit Creator Ltd., a Cayman Islands company. The Cayman Islands company has been guaranteed by FSA.

Foreign currency exchange and interest rate risks associated with the Korean won-denominated auto loan pool have been hedged through a Korean won/U.S. dollar cross-currency swap provided by ING. This type of swap is difficult to obtain: illiquidity in the swap market has long been an impediment to the successful launch of cross-border transactions originating from Korea.

Non-performing loans have been securitised from Korea on cross-border basis – see Kamco transaction reported on this site.

Links See our country page on Korea.

Real Estate Roundtable seeks time to apply FAS 140

The Real Estate Roundtable, "an organization comprised of the principals of the leading real estate companies as well as the elected leaders of many of the major real estate trade associations", has a written a letter to the Financial Accounting Standards Board seeking deferral of FAS 140 to commercial mortgage-backed securitizations by at least 90 days to clarify ambiguity relating to powers of SPVs.

FAS 140, the new accounting standard on securitizations, is to apply to all transfers made after 31st March, 2001, that is, from Monday next. One of the new conditions inserted in the accounting standard is the limitations on the powers of the SPV. These limitations substantially limit the powers of the SPV on sale of the assets transferred to them. Paras 42/43 and Paras 189/190 of the Accounting Standard deal with these limitations. Importantly, the SPV cannot choose to either sell or retain the assets, if certain trigger events take place, e.g., obligor default.

The CMBS industry is upset by this rule. The industry argues, and apparently understandably, that servicing a pool of commercial mortgage-backed securities or commercial loan obligations could be more complex and involve a higher degree of discretionary activities than in case of other classes. Interestingly, the accounting industry as a whole seems to be caught off guard by this ruling. Because it would require QSPE to dispose of assets in an automatic response to certain events outlined in the FASB rule, the proposed rule would adversely affect the accounting requirements. It would also materially impair the special servicers' discretion in the disposition of assets and could lead to higher loss rates on specially serviced loans.

So, either the CMBS industry re-invents itself in line with the new rules, or it negotiates a way out to live with on-the-balance-sheet accounting.

Links For more on accounting under FAS 140, see our Encyclopaedia page here.

AIG-group insurance company's legal disputes put make securitization investors jittery

First it was LTV, and now it is the refusal of AIG-group insurance company to honour its insurance commitment that covered a film-financed backed securitization deal. They all prove one thing- the securitization market is not immune from defaults, delays and downgrades that rock the rest of the fixed income market. The litigation discussed below could be particularly a problem for emerging market future flow deals.

The background of the American International Group Inc. (AIG) story is like this: Lexington Capital is a part of the AIG Group. A certain SPV called Flashpoint Inc. had securitised future receivables from Hollywood film productions. The deal was credit enhanced by an insurance cover from Lexington Capital, which is a AAA-rated insurer. As is the convention, when a transaction is backed by a AAA guarantor, the asset-backed transaction itself is rated AAA. Most of the money in the transaction was put in by a single investor called Quadrant Capital, a UK-based structured investment vehicle. These films are unlikely to be made, and Lexington Capital has refused to honour its commitment under the insurance contracts.

Lexington, on its part, distinguishes betweeen a guarantee contract and an insurance contract. The credit enhancement in question was an insurance and not a guarantee, and according to Lexington, the money is not payable as the films were never made. As a matter of fact, Lexington claims support of a British court ruling, presently in appeal, in a similar case.

Vinod Kothari comments: An insurance contrat is a contract of indemnity, different from a guarantee, and the distinction between the two is well understood- so Lexington might have a good case in law. The point is: securitization markets, and rating agencies in particular, have to understand out of experience that an insurance policy is not at par with a financial guarantee, and that from a multiline and monoline insurer does not go on the same footing. If the market keeps responding to a go-go call of optimistic investment bankers, such problems are bound to recur, and one cannot blame securitisation structure for such failure.

Future flow deals will particularly be affected by this controversy – as that is where the legal tangle between claiming a damage on account of non-performance of the obligor, and that of the originator, becomes important.

BIS overburdens mortgage loans and MBS

A senior economist attached with the Office of Thrift Supervision in the USA demonstrates in a paper as to how the BIS risk weightages on mortgage lending are more than what they should be, and on commrecial loans, they are less than what they should be. In other words, MBS is safer than the BIS thinks, and commercial loans are riskier than the BIS thinks.

The current regulatory risk weightages of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) were promulgated way back in 1988 and are based on arbitrary percentages worked out based on observation/experience. They suffer from the "error of the average", and BIS recently proposed a complete rewriting of its regulatory standards moving from the present system to one of risk rating of each individual loan – see our article here.

The present BIS standards attach a 50% risk weightage to mortgage loans. In his conclusions based on data over years, the author finds: "Annual cross-sectional histograms reveal that real estate in general, and 1-4 family mortgages in particular, consistently pose the least credit risk of the six loan categories considered. Commercial and consumer loans typically pose the greatest risk. The Basel risk weights do not appear to price risk consistently across loan types."

DownloadFull text of the article here (PDF file)

US ABS celebrates highest volume quarter

If volumes in year 2000 were not as enthusing, Q1 of 2001 shows that the current year has cheers in store. Volume in the first quarter of 2001 have broken all records in history. With a week still to go, the volume upto 23rd March has already reached USD 92.4 billion. The data is available on

The figures show a substantial increase in public issuance and a decline in 144a issuance. Data to date (23rd March) already shows an increase of over 30% over corresponding period last year.

Analysts say that in general, there is a lot of money flowing out of equities and into debt, and ABS is the investors' favourite. The traditional MBS investors are also migrating over to the ABS market as prepayments build up due to consistently declining interest rates.

Links For more about securitization in the USA, click on our country page here.

Telecom Italia ready to securitise receivables

In some of our previous reports, we talked about the increasing interest of European telephone giants in securitization: some have gone ahead and done it and some have on the drawing board. We also referred to the proposal by Telecom Italia to securitise its receivables.

Telecom Italia's proposal to securitise seems to have reached an advanced stage. Italian media Il Sole 24 Ore of 24th March reported that Telecom Italia will raise some euros 750 million by securitisation of phone receivables. This will be the first purely corporate user of securitization under Italian securitisation law which is currently dominated by banks, leasing companies and the like.

The issue will be arranged by BNP Paribas SA, Finanziaria Internazionale and WestLb.

It is set to sell millions of bills, possibly 10 million, to a special issue vehicle named "TI Securitisation Vehicle Srl". The bond will be sub-divided into tranches with different ratings from the maximum possible, "AAA".

Links: For more on securitisation in Italy, refer to our country pageThis page was recently updated.

European Securitisation Forum recommends disclosures in offer documents

The European Securitisation Forum, a body of securitisation professionals in Europe and affiliated to the Bond Markets Association, USA, has finalised disclosure requirements in offer documents for securitisation. The new recommendations overwrite on the standards finalised in June 1999.

The recommended disclosures should:

(a) Be clearly identified under a separate heading or subheading within the disclosure document.

(b) Set forth the principal categories, fields and individual items of data, at both the collateral level and security (bond) level, that will be contained in post-issuance reports;

(c) Set forth definitions of key data items to be presented in such reports, to facilitate analysis and comparison;

(d) Specify the timing (e.g., monthly, quarterly or other periodic schedule) that will be observed in the production and dissemination of post-issuance reports;

(e) Identify and provide contact information for the transaction participant(s) (e.g., trustee, administrative agent) that will have principal responsibility for preparing and disseminating post-issuance reports;

(f) Identify specific underlying transaction documents (e.g., indenture, pooling and servicing agreement) that contain more detailed information concerning the content of post-issuance reports, including details concerning how those documents may be accessed or obtained;

(g) Set forth the specific format that will be used in assembling and transmitting reporting data (e.g., text, spreadsheet or other database format); and

(h) Specify the communication and distribution channels that will be used to disseminate post-issuance reports, or from which such reports may be obtained (e.g., internet websites, third-party information vendors, other electronic media outlets).

Links See the website of the Forum here.

Professionals form securitization trust company in South Africa

A lawyer and a chartered accountant joined hands to serve the fledgling securitization market in South Africa, and thus, Steinway Trustees, the first independent trust company for securitization in South Africa, came into existence.

The company was formed by Peter Ditz, a lawyer, and Don Guthrie, chartered accountant. Steinway will provide services of independent trustee for securitizations. An independent SPV is required under South African regulations – see for text here.

Market professionals said the exact volumes of securitization in South Africa were not known but it could reach Rand 20 billion in three years.

The stress for bank funding by way of securitization has increased in South Africa ever since exchange controls were relaxed: more money is now going out of the country.

Related links See our country page on South Africa here. For a forthcoming workshop on accounting for financial instruments, to be conducted by Vinod Kothari in South Africa, click here.

Philippine government plans future flow securitisation to bridge budget gap

According to report on Philstar the Philippine government might be considering a bond scheme securitized by future income from state-controlled agencies and might raise about P56 billion. The amount would help the Government to bridge the country's spanning budget gap. Such a proposal has been sounded long time back and we have carried a news report earlier – click here.

The government was looking at issuing debt instruments backed by future earnings of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and Clark Development Corp.

The plan to securitize government’s future income from state-run corporations was first hatched by former finance secretary Edgardo Espiritu. His predecessor, Jose Pardo also wanted to implement theh plan but it never pushed through.

Link: For text of securitisation law in Philippines – click here.

The art of ART spans broad field of corporate finance

Alternative risk transfer (ART) devices are becoming the buzzword of high finance and risk management in 2001. ART has lied low over last few years, and as we commented in our write up below, it has been more talked about than practiced. However, with insurance costs rising, there is a distinctive surge of interest in ART. However, more importantly, ART devices are now being seen as a complement to the traditional sources of corporate finance – equity and debt.

First, about the increasing cost of insurance and the rise of interest in ART. A report by the Insurance Information Institute based in New York expects insurance costs to go up by about 10% during 2001. There is more incentive than ever before, therefore, to explore new avenues of risk transfer.

Coming to the use of ART devices as a part of an integrated approach to corporate finance, companies like Swiss Re New Markets are now looking at an integrated approach to corporate finance. The company sometime back proposed risk capital as a building block of corporate capital – click here for a report. An article in a recent issue of journal Risk Management March 2001 quotes John Gantz of Swiss Re New Markets as saying: . "ART isn't just financial solutions or nontraditional solutions to hazard risks. We're not focused so much on hazard risk as we are on the earnings and financial statements of our clients. In effect, we don't have an insurance approach, but an insurance-based corporate finance approach."

Corporate finance is a remarkable word, in the world of insurance. What Gantz is proposing, in essence, is that after all, equity is a source of the ultimate risk capital in a corporate. If external risk support is available in form of a business risk transfer, the need for equity support is reduced, thereby making equity more efficient.

Links Do visit our Risk securitization page for additional materials and links. Several articles on ART are linked on website Artemis – click here. Swiss Re's new markets website is here.

Deutsche Telekom to securitise receivables

A report in Financial Times of 21st March says Deutsche Telekom, the German telephone utility proposes to securitise its telephone revenues to raise resources and restructure its finances. We have earlier carried similar report – see here.

European telephone utilities have been looking at looking at securitisation option to repay the costly debt they incurred while building capability for third generation mobile telephony. Telecom Italia and France Telecom are among the telephone companies who have been making similar noises in the past. The telecom companies hope to reduce their cost of funding due to better ratings normally featured in structured finance deals.

Under the proposal, Deutsche Telekom would transfer future telephone flows into an offshore vehicle, an SPV for the transaction, and raise anywhere between Euros 1.5 billion to Euros 2 billion.

Canadian market grows 8 fold in 5 years

An article in Financial Post of 21st March, quoting a study by Dominion Bond Rating Service, says Canadian asset-backed market has growh 8 fold in just 5 years and the value of securities outstanding as at end 2000 stands at Canada $ 79.4 billion. This volume compares with Canada $ 66.4 billion as at end 1999, and something like $ 10 billion 5 years ago.

As a feature that cannot be missed, Canadian market is predominantly funded by asset backed commercial paper – to the extent of $60.6 billion, and it is only the balance which is backed by term paper in form of bonds or notes.

The asset classes are also becoming more diversified, says the report. Commercial mortgages and credit card receivables, apart from banking assets, are now being securitised. Recently, we carried a report about CMBS market gaining momentum – click here.

Links For more on Canadian securitization, see our country page here.

Sidley and Austin awarded top law firm for CMBS market

In the latest annual rankings of CMBS law firms released by Commercial Mortgage Alert, Sidley placed Number 1 in 2000 among law firms used by underwriters, and tied for first among those used by issuers of registered and Fannie Mae guaranteed commercial mortgage-backed securities.

Of the nearly $29.5 billion in public commercial mortgage-backed securities issued last year, Sidley accounted for around 28% of the underwriting market, representing underwriters in nine of the 35 public and Fannie Mae offerings in 2000.

The CMBS market covers a broad spectrum of commercial real estate financings, everything from multi-family housing to industrial, retail, hospitality, health care and other forms of commercial real estate. Mortgage-backed securities play a significant role in the financing of large commercial real estate in the U.S., from shopping malls to office parks.

In 1999 Sidley was at the second position, preceded by Cadwalader Wickersham which has slipped to the 4th position this yeare.

Tokyo government helps securitise small business loans

This is a remarkable example of a government authority using securitisation to further its developmental objective. According to a report on Dow Jones, last week, the Metropolitan government of Tokyo arranged to issue to investors some Y32 billion in collateralized loan obligations, securitizing loans extended by most of the nation's big banks to 952 Tokyo-based small and midsize companies. This comes at a time when Japan's small business is starved for cash and banks, scared of losses and failures of large Japanese banks, have put brakes on lending.

Under the specially-designed scheme, small firms get access to capital, borrowing up to Y500 million each without putting up collateral. The loans are guaranteed by the Credit Guarantee Corp. of Tokyo. The loans are thereafter pooled and securitised. The three-year bonds are being issued through Tokyo Kirari Corp., a Cayman Island-based special purpose vehicle, and are being launched via joint lead managers Sanwa Securities and Tokai International Securities.

The bonds are broken into 4 tranches and it is only the two subordinate tranches which have the benefit of the guarantee of Tokyo government. Tranche C and D, thus enhanced by the guarantee, are targeted at retail investors.

Other governments may take a leaf from out of the book of Tokyo experiment.

Strong interest in securitization in Spain, says Standard and Poor's

Rating agency Standard and Poor's in a Release dated 13th March says it has noted a very strong interest by financial institutions to use securitization as a mechanism to transfer risk, and thereby manage their balance sheets more efficiently. In addition, Spanish corporates have started looking at securitization as a new source of financing. For the remainder of this year, Standard & Poor's expects to see increased growth in the use of fondos de titulización de activos (securitization funds) to securitize corporate loans and small to midsize loans, as well as the expansion of the securitization of consumer loans, future flows, and trade receivables.

The securitization of trade receivables, using either a foreign asset-backed CP conduit or a fondo de titulización de activos, may prove an attractive source of funding for Spanish corporations.

Securitization is becoming a relatively common financial product in the Spanish debt market. It has been used as an alternative source of financing in Spain since the early 1990s. Since then, the market has been relatively active, with a peak of 14 and 13 transactions in 1999 and 2000, respectively. Of the 13 securitizations seen in Spain during last year, three were FTPYME (fondo de titulización pequeñas y medianas empresas) transactions, six involved residential mortgages, and four involved asset-backed securities, which, by volume, account for 21%, 36%, and 43%, respectively, of the total market.

Although mortgage-backed securities remain a very strong asset in this market, in contrast to previous years collateralized loan obligations (CLOs) have been the main contributor to the recent growth of the Spanish market. The loans used in Spanish CLOs have typically consisted of loans to big corporates, loans to municipalities, and loans to small and midsized enterprises (SMEs). It is not surprising that this type of asset was new to the market in 2000.

In 1999, the Spanish government implemented a program through which the Spanish Treasury gives partial guarantees for qualifying securitizations of SME loans (see the May 28, 1999 Ministerial Order to facilitate the access to finance SMEs). The portfolios that qualify for this type of guarantee must meet the following conditions: At least 40% of the loans in the portfolio must meet the European Commission's definition of SMEs; The maturity of the loans must be greater than one year; The transferor of the loans to a fondo de titulización de activos must reinvest at least 40% of the proceeds of the sale to grant new loans to SMEs; The transferor must sign an agreement with the Ministry of Finance; The SME cannot be a financial institution; and The SME must be domiciled in Spain. For these types of transactions the treasury will irrevocably and unconditionally guarantee 80% of the 'AA' rated securities, 50% of the 'A' rated securities, and 15% of the 'BBB' rated securities.

Although the Spanish legal securitization framework creates two types of fondos–fondos de titulización hipotecaria (mortgage securitization fondos, under law 92/1992) and fondos de titulización de activos (assets securitization fondos, under royal decree 926/1998)–that can be used for the purpose of securitization in Spain, originators will likely also look at new types of offshore structures, for example, for credit default swaps and Pan-European transactions.

Links See our country page on Spain here.

Risk securitisation volume may grow in 2001

Risk securitization or alternative risk transfer looked a beautiful idea, but over last 2-3 years, it was more talked about than practiced. An article in Business Insurance March 12 says that the volume of risk securitization might pick up in 2001.

The volume of risk securitization over last three years has been almost flat at USD 1. 2 billion but it might double this year, says the article. The reasons are increasing reinsurance costs and the growing investor interest in insurance-linked securities.

There have been two significant deals so far during this year – Munich Re's USD 300 million notes, and USD 100 million issuance for California Earthquake Authority structured by Swiss Re. These deals evidence the increasing flow of business, according to market practitioners. The reasons for the flurry of activity are increasing reinsurance cost and reducing scope for retrocessional cover.

Practitioners say that the market for risk securitisation is seeing increasing issuer interest to hedge risks for which traditional insurance covers are not available such as credit risk and commodity risk. Swiss Re pioneered talking about risk capital as a source of managing the liability side of the balance sheet.

Another path-breaking deal of year 2000 was Arby's securitisation of franchise fees. While franchise fees have been securitised in the past as well, the unique thing about this deal was its insurance link, involving a financial guarantee insurance policy from Ambac Assurance Corp., reinsured on a first-loss basis by Swiss Re Group subsidiary European Reinsurance Co. of Zurich, Bermuda Branch, with Ambac taking an excess-risk position. Notes worth USD 290 million were finally issued by the SPV.

Not only in the USA, even Europe seems enthusiasticly growing in alternative risk transfers. One insurance broker reported a fee of as much as USD 37.3 million, an increase of 65% over 1999 earnings.

European tax haven Guernsey has already enacted enabling legislation for incorporation of protected cell companies. For more on protected cell companies, see our report here.

Link See our page on risk securitisation here.

Canadian CMBS market gets a boost

According to reports in Financial Post of 12th March, the Canadian commercial mortgage-backed securities market is set to receive a major boost with the news that at least three deals are in the making.

Caisse de depot, through N-45 Degree First CMBS Issuer Corp., is set to securitise some of its commercial mortgage assets. That deal is expected to come to the market near month-end, and is likely to touch about $350-million. CIBC World Markets is the lead agent.

Merrill Lynch Mortgage Loans will act as a conduit for yet another mortgage securitisation for a transaction approximated at $ 300 million. Merrill will be acting merely as a conduit for mortgages originated by others.

The third deal, expected to be scheduled in early May, is a $275-million offering by Solar Trust, an entity associated with TD Bank.

Links For more on securitisation in Canada, refer to our Country page here.

Shipping pool receivables securitised in India

In line with the spate of securitisations hitting the market in India, newspapers on 13th March carried a tombstone advertisement of a securitisation of shipping pool receivables, for an amount of Rs. 280 million [approx. USD 6.2 million].

The originator is Varun Shipping and the deal has been structured and financed by Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Limited.

Do you know more about this transaction – if so, please do write.

Links For more on securitisation market in India, click on our country page.

European CDO activity surges

The European collateralized debt obligations (CDO) market, which includes collateralized bond/loan obligations (CBO/CLO), ended February 2001 a massive 76.5% higher at $3.0 billion, compared with $1.7 billion in the same period a year earlier, says a release by rating agency Standard and Poor's.

According to analysts from S&P, the upsurge has been prompted by European banks' and fund managers' increased use of CDO technology as a balance-sheet management tool and for arbitrage purposes. Besides the traditional centres as UK, a lot of activity is coming from Germany, The Netherlands, France, and Spain.

A report in Deutsche Bank's Securitisation Monthly says that the unusual increase in CBO/CLO sector is accounted for largely by Melrose Financing, a UK CLO. Having a size of Euro 2.4 billion, this is regarded as the largest ABS transaction in Europe to date. Melrose securitised a portfolio of 559 U.K. mid-market corporate loans (250 borrowers) originated by Bank of Scotland. This was the second CLO (after Clover Funding, issued April 2000) using a master trust structure, which also became popular for MBS transactions last year.

February issuance also included three operating assets deals. sector, including Euro 1.5 billion deal from debt for Eurotunnel, the Euro 1 billion RHM issue that securitises the whole business of Ranks Hovis McDougall, a U.K. flour, bread and groceries producer. The RHM transaction by intangible assets being trade marks and business rights.

Electrification finance compay in India securitises receivables

Of late, there is quite a lot of activity in securitization market in India, and the activity got a further boost when Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) reported having securitised its receivables. On March 7th, REC reported having successfully securitised receivables worth Rs 2060 million [USD 46 million approx.] from Aptransco, the distribution utility in the state of Andhra Pradesh. REC provides financial assistance by way of loans to power infrastructure projects in rural areas.

ICICI was the advisor to the issue with ICICI Securities, SBI Capital Markets, Allianz Securities, and ABN Amro Securities acting as lead arrangers to the deal.

This is the first securitization in the power sector in India. The receivables are to accrue over 61 months time. The coupon rate for the deal has been pegged at 11 per cent on an annualised rate. The amount will be payable in equated monthly instalments. Most of the buyers are nationalised banks. The largest investor in this securitisation issue is Punjab National Bank, which has bought Rs 1000 million, UTI, Rs 400 million Central Bank of India, Rs 250 million; Corporation Bank, Rs 150 million; Union Bank, Rs 100 million; etc.

The issue has been rated `AAA(SO)' by Crisil.

The transaction is with full recourse as it is based on an irrevocable and unconditional undertaking executed by REC, assuring full and timely payment on the pass through certificates (PTCs). The payment security mechanism includes a default mechanism wherein, if there is any default by Aptransco, all other payments from the accounts of the transmission utility in the State Bank of Hyderabad will be stopped until REC installments are paid-off.

Vinod Kothari comments: The structure is closer to collateralised lending than securitisation. It is structurally wrong to call the instrument a "pass through" when it hinges on the credit of the originator. However, with this and similar deals coming up, there would be a lot of supply of securitisation paper in India and market activity will pick up, leading to more refinement in practices.

Links For more on securitisation market in India, click here.

Chrysalis raised GBP 60m by securitising future royalty income

Reuters reported on March 1 that London-based media firm Chrysalis Group Plc was reaping GBP 60 million pounds from the future income of its global music catalogue, which includes songs by the Beatles and David Bowie. Funded by U.S.-based MUSIC Finance Corp. and arranged by Royal Bank of Scotland, the Chrysalis deal represents about 40 percent of the estimated current value of the firm's music publishing catalogue over next 15 years.

The earliest known example of music royalty securitization is David Bowie in 1997, but there have been a number of other deals thereafter.See our page on intellectual property securitisation for details.

Argentinan mortgage securitisation agency issues political-risk-insured paper

Argentinan mortgage securitization agency Banco de Credito y Securitizacion (BACS) recently issued USD 95 million worth mortgage securitisation paper that was insured for politcal risk by Sovereign Risk Insurance Ltd. BACS is the Fannie-Mae-type mortgage securitization agency created in Argentina with the support of IFC – see our news report on this site here.

This issue is the first securitization by BACS.

The issue was tranched in senior bonds of USD 95 million, forming part of USD 115.8 million mortgage bonds.

The political risk insurance provided by Sovereign helped the transaction to achieve significantly higher ratings. Moody's assigned an "A1" rating to the senior bonds, which is the highest rating that can be assigned to a cross border bond supported by Argentine assets, while Fitch Inc. rated the transaction "A+". These ratings are 9 notches above Argentina's sovereign ceiling for Moody's and 7 notches for Fitch Inc.

The 12-year political risk insurance policy covers up to 15 months of interest payments on the notes against the risks of currency inconvertibility and currency nontransfer. Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. served as sole placement agent for the senior bonds pursuant to a Rule 144A /Regulation S private placement.

Links For more on securitization in Argentina, see our country page here.

LTV case gets new twist with DIP petition

ImportantSee also Editorial on this issue.

The truth shall prevail, if the petition by LTV filed on 5th March is admitted. The truth of the securitization transactions, we mean.

The LTV case involves determination of a very significant question by the US Bankruptcy Court of the Northern District of Ohio: whether the accounts receivables securitization facility used by LTV, now under Chapter 11 protection, was a true sale or disguised funding. The case caused strong ripples in the securitization markets, seeing several industry representatives filing an amicus curae motion which was admitted by the Court.

However, even as the case was scheduled for hearing on 7th March, LTV filed, on March 5, motions seeking to replace the securtisation facilities by two alternative Debtor-in-possession (DIP) facilities. The precondition, however, for both the DIP facilities is that the bankruptcy Court gives a verdict approving the securitization transactions as true sales and not disguised funding transactions. The DIP facilities proposed by LTV seek to replace the existing securitization transactions. The participants in the erstwhile securitization transaction will enter into a DIP facility with LTV with which the participants will buy out the receivables held by the SPV.

If the Court approves the DIP option, it would have expressly resolved that the transfer of receivables and stocks by LTV to the SPV was a true sale and such resolution would save the multi-trillion dollar securitization industry from a crucial legal controversy.

With the new motion by filed by LTV, the true-sale question has been adjourned to March 14. Mayer Brown and Platt, who are representing the amici curae in the case expect the hearing to further adjourned.

Contentions of the amici curae

Mayer Brown and Platt's gives the full text of the motion and the background memorandum filed on behalf of the amici. The 41 page backrounder is an excellent document on the significance of securitization industry in US economy and how it is benefiting all connected parties, as also a crisp account of the legal strength of securitization transactions.

The memorandum says that US securitization industry is USD 5.9 trillion strong (the value of securities outstanding, including mortgage-backed paper and asset-backed commercial paper). Approx. USD 1 trillion worth securities were issued in 2000 alone. It says that issuers have increasingly been resorting to securitization to reduce cost of funds, attain liquidity and greater access to funds and resources.

The memorandum contends that the economic and legal rationale of securitization, in isolating the assets of the originator and thereby protecting investors from the generic business risks of the originator, are well founded. The investors who see greater security in such investments are willing to subscribe at lower rates, thereby bringing down the cost of funds for the originator, which benefits everyone including consumers. It is customary to use a subsidiary as an SPV in securitizations, as was done by LTV, but US Courts have consistently approved commercial transactions with subsidiaries. [Comstock v. Group of Investors 335 US 211]. There cannot be any doubt as to the "good faith" nature of a securitization, in that it does not amount to assets being stripped off the originator, as the originator retains equity control on the subsidiary or gets paid in cash for what he transfers.

There is no doubt that LTV benefited from the transfer of accounts made by it, which is what it now challenges as being not a true sale. The amici are concerned about the generic and frontal attack LTV makes against securitization structures in general, and the ripple impact the case will have on the securitization industry. LTV has cited several reasons for consolidation of the SPV with by lifting the corporate veil, such as no separate office space for the SPV, no separate employees, sweeping of cash balances back to LTV, settling of interparty transactions by accounting entry rather than cash transfers, etc. The amici contend that these are usual facts in intra-group transactions and using such grounds as the basis for consolidation would completely demolish the separation of corporate entities.

Amici also cite several rulings of bankruptcy courts in the past where securitizations have been respected by Courts. Amici refer to Allied/Department Stores and Carter Hawley Hale to their benefit.

Amici refer to the history of the Octagon Gas Systems in which case a securitization transfer was recharacterised which met with the disapproval of the UCC Permanent Editorial Board and subsequently led to the law of Art.9 of Oklahama commercial code. [For the amendment to UCC art. 9 and more about the Octagon ruling, this article by Prof. Steven Schwarcz on this site here. ] Amici also remind the Court of the disruption the Octagon ruling had, and that the high profile case of LTV is likely to cause a similar disruption.

More updates and comments We will be bringing more updates and comments on this case soon – stay tuned. Also see the editorial on the issue. For more on the true sale question, see our page here.

UK's first reverse mortgage securitization rated by S&P

UK's first ever reverse mortgage securitization was recently rated by rating agency Standard and Poor's (S&P). A S&P release said the agency assigned its preliminary ratings to the GBP 222.5 million fixed- and floating-rate mortgage-backed notes to be issued by special-purpose entity Equity Release Funding (No.1) PLC. The originator for the mortgages is Norwich Union Equity Release Ltd.

Reverse mortgages are peculiar mortgages designed for old-age people, who essentially want to encash upon the equity in a house owned by them, and supplement their income during their old age, and finally aim at giving up their house when they die. For more details on reverse mortgages, see our section here.

Reverse mortgages have so far been popular only in the USA. This is the first case of a reverse mortgage securitisation in the UK. The mortgages being securitised were created by the originator between December 1998 and November 2000. The average age of the borrowers under these mortgages is 70 -74.

The offer has been given a preliminary rating of AAA by S&P.

Links For more on reverse mortgages, click here. For more on RMBS, click here. For securitization in UK, click here.

Second rated RMBS offer in India

Even as the Finance Minister promised a comprehensive securitization legislation [see below], India's RMBS market got a fresh supply – the second such offering – in form of pass through certificates (PTCs) from National Housing Bank. The PTCs are backed by portfolios of loans acquired by NHB from two originators – Canfin Homes and LIC Housing Finance. The size of LIC Housing Finance's offering is Rs. 468 million of Class A notes, and that of Canfin Homes is Rs. 448 million Class A.

The substantial amount of credit enhancement comes in form of subordinated PTCs retained by the originators, which, in case of LIC Housing Finance, was almost Rs. 274 million.

Both the offerings got a AAA rating.

Vinod Kothari comments: In this year's budget, National Housing Bank, the apex housing finance institution, will lose its tax free status. NHB is acting as SPV for this and other transactions. The way these deals have been structured, the loose PTC structure might not be regarded as a clean pass through, exposing NHB to tax in a representative capacity.

Links See our country page on India – click here.

Swiss Re structures insurance-linked bond for Californian authority

The California Earthquake Authority (CEA) and two leading financial service companies have used a combination of reinsurance and investment capital to arrange $100 million that will be available to CEA policyholders in the event of one or more major earthquakes over the next 23 months. As part of the transaction, the CEA signed a $100 million reinsurance contract with Swiss Reinsurance Company. Subsequently, Swiss Re Capital Markets Corporation (SRCM) and Goldman, Sachs & Co. co-led a private offering and jointly placed $97 million of floating rate notes and $3 million of preference shares that, in effect, will replenish Swiss Re's capital should such an earthquake occur.

The transaction is similar, though not exactly the same as the cat bond device prevailing for past few years.

The floating rate notes were rated BB+ by Standard & Poor's and Ba2 by Moody's. The issuer, Western Capital Limited, is a Bermuda special purpose company whose common shares are held in trust. Payout of the floating-rate notes is linked to an index of California earthquakes as determined by the Property Claim Services (PCS). Earthquake risk analysis was provided by Oakland, CA-based EQECAT Inc. A unit of Swiss Re New Markets, SRCM structured and placed the first California earthquake bond and the first insurance industry loss indexed bond (SR Earthquake Fund) in 1997.

Thanks This news item was contributed by Adrian Leonard, an specialised financial freelance writer risk related issues.

Links Please do see our risk securitization page – click here.

Truth-in-sale question question in LTV bankruptcy worries industry

In good times in securitization industry, a "true sale" opinion from the lawyers might only mean days spent on lengthy legal conferences, a one-inch thick securitization document, and finally, a big hole in the pocket on account of legal fees. But once in a while, bankruptcy of the originator could expose a seldom thought-of question : was the sale of cashflows from the originator to the SPV a sale in fact?

While a US bankruptcy court is currently seized of this issue, the entire securitisation industry is watching the proceedingly anxiously. The case in point is the bankruptcy of LTV Corporation. LTV, a Ohio-based steel company, filed for protection under Chapter 11 on 29th December last year. The bankruptcy court allowed LTV to use its receivables to maintain its staff payments, etc. However, this is where Abbey National stepped in – contending that LTV had no right to the cashflows, as the same had already been securitised. Way back in 1994, LTV had transferred, on a revolving basis, receivables to its SPV called LTV Sales Finance Co., and Abby had bought interest in such receivables.

LTV's lawyers contended that the sale of receivables by LTV is nothing but a disguised financing.

Even as the hearings go, the securitisation industry is worried. Revealing the worry is the fact that several concerned parties, including Bond Market Association, MBNA Corp., GE Capital Corp., Residential Funding Corp. and the Consumer Mortgage Coalition have prayed before the Court to be included as amicus curae and have pleaded that the true sale character of the receivables should not be disturbed. The list of those pleading to be included as amicus curae runs to 23 top names in the securitization industry, represented by Mayer Brown and Platt. Mayer Brown and Platt emphasize that securitization is based on century-old concepts of absolute transfers among affiliated entities and corporate separateness that have been long recognized under federal bankruptcy law, that securitization has become a $5.9 trillion market, benefitting all segments of the U.S. economy (including locally important segments such as the auto industry), that securitization transactions have been routinely respected in other bankruptcy cases, and that accepting LTV's frontal attack on securitization could cause a seismic disruption of the financial markets.

There have been cases in the past where purported securitization or receivables transfer agreements have been characterized as loans: the issue depends almost entirely on the facts and the strength of documentation. The case is scheduled for hearing on 7th March. On this site, we will be covering further developments in this case.

In yet another unrelated development, US airline company TWA filed for Chapter 11 protection in Jan. this year. TWA has originated several securitizations in the past, and is the obligor for several other aviation related securitisations. There are as many as 7 operating leases to TWA that have been securitised by the respective lessors. Rating agencies do not expect much problem for operating lease securitizations, as the leases, if cancelled, can only result into release of the aircraft to the lessor which can be redeployed.

But the bigger problem is for future ticket sales deals securitised by TWA. This is a ticket sale securitisation through Constellation Finance LLC Series 1997-1. This deal, worth around $100m, was rated BB and sold in December 1997 and is collateralised by ticket sales being paid by specified credit cards. The deal does have a cash reserve, and fast amoritisation trigger, but quite possibly, will be affected by the bankruptcy.

No airline originated deal has defaulted in the past.

Links Our article on true sale in securitization covers the true sale question as also major cases in the past – click it here. See the comment on Mayer Brown and Platt-sponsored website on the LTV case – click here.

Indian Finance Minister promises securitisation law

Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha presented a reforms and growth-oriented Budget for 2001-2. The Budget has been hailed as bold and beautiful, though it contains some fine prints which might hit the financial services sector. [See Vinod Kothari's financial services website for a detailed commentary]

Proposing several measures to invigorate the debt market, Yashwant Sinha listed a proposed comprehensive securitization legislation too. Though no time frame has been laid, it is expected that the Bill may be placed in the next session of the Parliament.

Draft of the securitization legislation proposed by the Andhyarujina panel is already on this site – click here. The draft law is almost like the wish-list of the securitization industry – it is just too good.

Link For more on securitization in India, click on our country page.

Malaysian securities regulator places capital market masterplan

Malaysia's securities regulator, Securities Commission (SC) recently prepared a Capital Market Masterplan (CMM) whichi aims to turn Malaysia into an international Islamic capital market centre by introducing more Islamic capital products and services.

The CMM also includes proposal to create a new securitization instrument – new class of debt securities can be created through the securitisation of real estate held by Wakaf, Baitul Mal and other Islamic institutions. Wakafs are Islamic endowments.

Currently, Cagamas, a mortgage securitization body in Malaysia, buys and securitises the mortgage loans of Malaysian banks and financial institutions, but with recourse to the originators. Other than securitisation by Cagamas, there is not much of activity in the field of securitisation, either by banks or by others.

The Securities Commission is also vested with the task of preparing Guidelines on securitization, which as per last available information are still in the process of being drafted.

Links See our country page on Malaysia here.

US insurance regulators agree on model SPV law

Ina meeting in Atlanta on Feb. 6, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' Securitization Working Group has agreed in principle to a model act that would allow insurers to use onshore special purpose reinsurance vehicles to securitize risk. The meeting was attended by regulators from 11 states.

The law will facilitate setting up securitization SPVs for insurance securitization in the US. Presently, securitization SPVs are being exported to off-shore jurisdictions primarily because of lack of an enabling legislation. Consequently, insurance risk securitization has not gathered the pace otherwise thought of.

Due to this, most of the insurance risk securitization activity is carried in tax haven jurisdictions. Analysts estimate that so far, over last 7-8 years of the history of risk securitization, there have been almost 56 offshore special purpose vehicle deals, as compared to only 2 that were domiciled in the United States.

After incorporating the SPV law in the country, the next task will be to seek IRS clarifications on the tax treatment of the vehicles. The market expects that the pass-through principles applicable to other securitisation SPVs will apply here too.

Links For our page on insurance securitisation, click here.

South African furniture vendor to securitise debts

A report in Business Day, South Africa, of 27th Feb says that Profurn, a furniture and electronics vendor might be raising something like Rands 800 million by securitising its debts. The debts are essentially the credit sales made by the vendor.

The report says that financial institutions and investment bankers were keenly interested in structuring the deal for Profurn. They expect a good appetite among investors too, as there is a dearth of properly rated debt securities in the South African market.

Securitisation had been hindered in the SA market to date partly because of restrictions on the practice contained in the regulations section of the Banks Act, analysts explained. Although private placements are permitted, any public issues by nonbanks must adhere to a series of restrictions that makes them more difficult, although not impossible, to structure. The Reserve Bank is drafting revised regulations that will make securitisations easier to complete and more accessible for all lenders. Some analysts expect these to be completed within three to four months.

Links For more on securitization in South Africa, see our country page here. We have also handled several securitization-related workshops in South Africa. For details of forthcoming and past events, see our page here.

Fannie and Freddie should grow up

An article by AMITY SHLAES in Financial Times UK reiterates the case so very often made by others that the US Government should withdraw its support to mortgage securitization agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are two of the three agencies used by the US government to securitise mortgages [ see for details on our country page here and our page on RMBS here]. Of these, Ginnie Mae continues to be government-owned, but Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been privatised over time.

Though privatised, the agencies continue to carry government support. Examples include: The president appoints members to their boards. The Treasury secretary may invest up to Dollars 2.25bn in their securities. Both companies are exempt from state and local taxes. And, most significantly, there is the general feeling that because of their social value and their size, the pair must not be allowed to fail. [Citing Peter Wallison and Bert Ely in Nationalizing Market Risk; American Enterprise Institute].

On this site, we have earlier carried glimpses of this debate – see our news report here, and a further news link on this link.

The article talks of the possible distortions that this implicit government support to the agencies creates – "For one thing, the pair may already be distorting markets – luring Americans into homebuying when they might better invest elsewhere. For another, the pair are growing so fast that they now threaten to consume the entire mortgage market, doing the damage of classic monopolies". Alan Greenspan has also expressed concern that the agencies might be "diverting real resources from other market-determined uses".

Links The debate continues. This website is dedicated to the Fannie Mae debate –