WEEKLY COMMENT 5-06-2014
By Barry Edwards
Securitisation and the Central Credit Register
The Bank of England (B0fE) and The European Central Bank (ECB) have got together to stimulate the securitisation market back into life since it imploded when the financial crisis occurred in 2007/8. Although the track record of bonds issued in Europe prior to that has been very good; it was the sub-prime bonds, which were all American, that killed off any interest in securitisation.
The BofE is also seeking to establish a Central Credit Register (CCR) in the UK to help improve the quality of company information generally and especially for SME’s, which do not have to publish detailed accounts below a turnover of £6.5 million. Most European countries have a state controlled register and those countries in the Eurozone that do not are required to establish one as part of the new financial regime that is being implemented there.
There are two papers on these subjects which were published on Friday the 30th of May 2014 which you can read if you click on the links below;
They are both discussion documents asking for recommendations and suggestions from the finance sector and anyone who has some ideas. These will form the framework of the papers for submission to parliament to create the legislation where necessary if they decide to go forward with the proposals.
The main thrust behind these discussion documents is to help funding for SME’s. Ever since the crisis, access to finance for these businesses has been severely curtailed and the politicians supported by the central banks are making a big effort to do something about it.
In this case, securitisation will allow banks to parcel up their SME loans into bonds and sell them to institutions for the higher yield they would offer, satisfying the need for a better interest rate for pension funds etc. The market is very small at the moment and the documentation for each issue is different making comparison and rating difficult. The plan is to standardise the format and the regulations for all the bonds allowing investors to be confident that their investment is secure and comparable with all the bonds issued.
The purpose behind creating CCR’s is to allow the bonds to be rated properly since the credit information about the companies will be made available to rating agencies and investors will have the confidence it is of good quality. Since the investors will also take on the risk of the loans failing, that is clearly an important part of the overall plan.
The ideas being put forward for the CCR’s include adding government information such as VAT and tax records and court judgements. Other possibilities are including average aged debtor lists and making large companies reveal the number of days it takes them to pay their invoices. To make available government information in the way proposed will require new legislation.
In the last two days we have had the Queen’s speech at the opening of the UK parliament confirming the government’s determination to improve the access to finance for SME’s which is in the finance bill from the budget going through parliament now. The ECB have stated in their monthly Governor’s council meeting announcement that they will accelerate the work on formulating the proposal for securitisation for SME loans.
The momentum to improve the access to funding for SME’s is really gaining strength and has the comprehensive support of all governments throughout Europe. The main stumbling block is the banks themselves; they are going through a detailed investigation by the ECB to establish their solvency which will report in the autumn. It is not surprising that they cannot get behind this drive to fund SME’s until that has been completed and they know their official financial condition.
Most commentators expect some banks will be shown to have much bigger non-performing loans than has been accounted for in their balance sheets. Many banks are raising funds currently in anticipation of this shortfall, while others are taking advantage of the low interest rates to boost their interest bearing capital base. Until this exercise is finalised and the ECB has published its report, it is not surprising they are holding back from expanding their lending to SME’s.
In the UK, the situation is much better than most of Europe and it will be another six months before we are likely to know if the current momentum is having any effect on growth in Europe. It is possible we will see further measures to kick start SME funding maybe including government guarantees in some form for the securitised bonds to make sure it really gets going.
That’s all for this week, more observations next week.