The following posts provide a snapshot of the principal U.S., European and global financial regulatory developments of interest to banks, investment firms, broker-dealers, market infrastructures, asset managers and corporates.
European Central Bank Publishes Second Consultation on a New Euro Unsecured Overnight Rate
The European Central Bank has published a second consultation paper on a new unsecured overnight interest rate for euro transactions. This second consultation follows the ECB’s announcement in September 2017 of its intention to develop the new benchmark and an initial consultation in November 2017 on its high level features. The new ECB rate will represent the euro unsecured money market in the very short tenor (i.e. overnight) and will be based entirely on transactions in euro that are reported by banks in accordance with the ECB’s money market statistical reporting. It will complement existing benchmark rates produced by the private sector and serve as a backstop reference rate. The ECB proposes to produce the new rate by 2020.
The second consultation sets out a proposed definition of the underlying interest and scope of the benchmark, based on responses received to the first consultation. On the basis of the proposed definition of the rate’s underlying interest, the second consultation considers the defined methodology of the new rate, along with the key operational and technical parameters. The consultation document also proposes contingency calculation rules in case certain representativeness thresholds are not met.
UK Financial Conduct Authority Outlines its Policy for Compelling Banks to Contribute to LIBOR
The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has published a policy statement explaining the methodology the FCA would expect to use if it needed to compel banks to contribute to LIBOR (the London Interbank Offered Rate). LIBOR, which is administered by ICE Benchmark Administration, is a long-established and systemically important benchmark that underpins transactions in many different markets globally. The FCA’s powers to compel contributions to LIBOR under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 have been superseded by similar powers under the EU Benchmarks Regulation, which came into effect on January 1, 2018. LIBOR has been designated a critical benchmark under the Benchmarks Regulation.
The FCA published a consultation paper in June 2017 on how its compulsion powers would need to be amended to align it with the Benchmarks Regulation. Since that consultation, the FCA has announced that all 20 panel banks that currently submit to LIBOR have agreed to continue to do so until the end of 2021. The FCA envisages that, by that time, sufficient progress will have been made on the evolution of LIBOR and transition to alternative benchmarks (which will be based on actual transactions) that the FCA may never need to use its compulsion powers.
View the policy statement (FCA PS18/5).
European Commission Proposes EU Covered Bonds Legislative Package
The European Commission has published legislative proposals for a new EU covered bonds framework. The legislative package consists of a proposed Directive on the issue of covered bonds and covered bond public supervision and a proposed Regulation to amend the prudential treatment of covered bonds under the Capital Requirements Regulation. The proposals are part of the EU's Capital Markets Union project and follow from the work of the European Banking Authority in this area, in particular, its 2016 recommendations for an EU covered bonds framework.
The proposed Covered Bonds Directive will apply to covered bonds issued by EU credit institutions, which means that only EU credit institutions will be able to issue covered bonds governed by the framework. Issuers using the EU covered bonds label will need to comply with the proposed Directive but can also use the label with national labels. Covered bonds are debt obligations issued by credit institutions and secured against a ring-fenced pool of assets to which bondholders have direct recourse as preferred creditors. The proposed Directive provides requirements for issuing covered bonds and the structural features of covered bonds, including dual recourse and bankruptcy remoteness. There are also provisions to address liquidity risk through the imposition of a liquidity buffer related to the cover pool and transparency provisions requiring information to be disclosed to covered bond investors. In addition, the proposed Directive provides for supervision at national level of covered bonds.
European Commission Proposes Legislation to Provide Legal Certainty for Cross-Border Assignment of Claims
The European Commission has published a proposed Regulation on the law applicable to the third-party effects of assignments of claims. The proposed Regulation was published alongside a Communication on the law applicable to the proprietary effects of transactions in securities.
Existing conflicts of law rules as to the contractual elements of the assignment of claims are governed at EU-level by the Rome 1 Regulation. However, there are no EU-level conflicts of law rules on the proprietary elements (or third-party effects) of the assignment of claims. The proprietary elements relate to who has ownership rights over a claim, which requirements must be met by an assignee to give him legal title over the claim and the resolution of competing claims. Currently, each Member State's conflicts of law rules govern the assignment of claims. These rules are inconsistent across the EU because they use different connecting factors to determine the applicable law - the rules in some Member States are based on the law of the assigned claim, others are based on the law of the assignor's habitual residence and other conflicts of law rules are based on the law of the assignment contract. In addition, some conflicts of law rules are unclear, particularly where they are not stated in legislation. Without legal certainty, market participants may not be aware of or choose to ignore the risk and then encounter unexpected losses; or they may mitigate the risk by seeking legal advice which will result in higher transaction costs; or they may be dissuaded by the legal risk, choose to avoid it and miss business opportunities.
European Commission Provides Clarification on the Law Applicable to the Proprietary Effects of Transactions in Securities
The European Commission has published a Communication on the law applicable to the proprietary effects of transactions in securities. The Commission's objective is to clarify the conflicts of law provisions in the Financial Collateral Directive, the Settlement Finality Directive and the Winding-up Directive. These Directives apply to book-entry securities and instruments, the existence or transfer of which presupposes their recording in a register, an account, or centralized deposit system. All three Directives designate the applicable law based on the place of the relevant register or account. However, there is a degree of uncertainty because the provisions in the Directives use different language and because there is diverse interpretation and application of the provisions across the EU. The Communication confirms the Commission's view that the terms 'maintained' and 'located' used in these Directives mean the same thing and that the different ways across the EU of determining where the account or register is 'maintained' or 'located' are valid. The Commission's views are subject to any potential future decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union on these issues.
The Commission will monitor developments in this area and assess whether any further action is necessary. National authorities are called upon to take the Commission's clarifications into account when applying the conflicts of law provisions of the FCD, SFD or WUD. The Communication should be read in conjunction with the Commission's proposed Regulation on the law applicable to the third-party effects of assignments of claims.
View the Communication.
View the proposed separate Regulation on assignment of claims.
European Central Bank Confirms Collective Agreement Between TARGET2 Participants
The European Central Bank has confirmed that a collective agreement signed between the central banks operating TARGET2 component systems and the central securities depositories operating on the TARGET2-Securities platform can enter into force. The provisions of the Collective Agreement will take effect on March 20, 2018. The Collective Agreement provides a definition of a “common moment of entry” for payments and securities transfer orders that are matched in the systems of the signatories to the agreement. This common moment of entry will either be the moment at which a transfer order has been declared compliant with the technical rules of T2S by either the T2S platform or, if the CSD is operating a separate matching component, by the CSD. Defining the common moment of entry makes it possible to establish the point at which securities transactions become irrevocable and accordingly will provide certainty regarding the treatment of outstanding transactions if a participant becomes insolvent.
European Commission Calls for Acceleration of Completion of the Capital Markets Union
The European Commission has published a Communication on completing the Capital Markets Union by 2019. The Communication confirms the Commissions commitment to completing the CMU by mid-2019 and announces the publication of the FinTech Action Plan, including a proposed Regulation on Crowdfunding, and the Sustainable Finance Action Plan. Legislative proposals on covered bonds, the cross-border distribution of collective investment funds and the law applicable to third-party effects of assignment are expected to be published on March 12, 2018. In May 2018, the Commission intends to publish a proposed Directive on credit servicers, credit purchasers and the recovery of collateral as well as impact assessments on the SME listing regime and the resolution of investment disputes.
The Commission states that completion of the CMU is more urgent due to the impending exit by the UK from the EU because the UK is currently the EUs largest financial centre. The Commission notes that an effective CMU will need to "open-up markets to give better access to finance for EU businesses and more and innovative investment opportunities for savers."
European Securities and Markets Authority Releases Double Volume Cap Data for Dark Pool Trading
The European Securities and Markets Authority has published on its website trading volumes and calculations for the purposes of the Double Volume Cap under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation. The published data covers the periods January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017 and February 1, 2017 to January 31, 2018.
The DVC has been introduced under MiFIR as a measure to limit the amount of dark pool trading, which can harm price formation in equity markets. The DVC places a cap on the volume of equities trading using two of the available waivers from the pre-trade transparency obligations of the MiFIR, namely the negotiated transaction waiver and the reference price waiver. The double cap comprises a per-venue cap of 4% of the total volume of trading in a particular financial instrument on all EU trading venues across over the previous 12 months and an EU-wide cap of 8%. ESMA is required to publish reports on the volume of trades that have relied on the waivers. National regulators must suspend, for six months, trading under the waivers that exceeds either of the caps.
The publication of the data follows a delay announced by ESMA in January 2018 due to issues with the quality and completeness of data that had been submitted.
View the ESMA press release.
International Standards Body Proposes Recommendations for Trading Venues on Managing Extreme Market Volatility
The International Organization of Securities Commissions has launched a consultation on proposed recommendations for trading venues and their regulators to consider when implementing, operating and monitoring volatility control mechanisms to preserve orderly trading. The consultation supports IOSCO’s objective of ensuring that markets are fair, efficient and transparent and focuses on automatic volatility interruptions and mechanisms to halt trading or reject orders.
International Standards Body Seeks to Tackle Conflicts of Interest and Conduct Risks in Equity Capital Raisings
The International Organization of Securities Commissions has published a consultation report in which it seeks feedback on proposed Guidance to address the significant potential conflicts of interest arising from the role of intermediaries during key stages of an equity raising.
IOSCO has identified a number of key risks. In the early, pre-offering, phase of an equity raising, conflicts of interest can arise where analysts employed by firms managing the securities offering may be under pressure to present a positive view of the issuer. During the investor education and price-formation phase these "connected" analysts may produce conflicted research and conflicts can also be present during the allocation of securities. There can be both conflicts of interest and risks of misconduct where staff employed within firms that are managing an equity raising enter into personal transactions. These issues can damage investor confidence and the effectiveness of the capital markets as route for issuers to raise finance.
UK Benchmarks Legislation Amended
The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Benchmarks) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 have been published to correct a drafting issue in the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Benchmarks) Regulations 2018, which are due to implement parts of the EU Benchmarks Regulation with effect from February 27, 2018.
Under the U.K. Benchmarks Regulations, which were laid before Parliament on February 5, 2018, transitional provisions will apply until revoked on May 1, 2020. The transitional provisions include a provision that applies to existing benchmark administrators only in respect of benchmarks they were administering on or before June 30, 2016. The effect of the transitional provision is that these existing benchmark administrators will not need to obtain regulatory permission under the Financial Services and Markets Act.
The newly published Amendment Regulations amend the U.K. Benchmarks Regulations to ensure that the transitional provision applies to existing benchmark administrators in relation to benchmarks administered before, on and after June 30, 2016. These benchmarks administrators will also be able to rely on the transitional provision in respect of new benchmarks during the transitional period.
The Amendment Regulations take effect on February 26, 2018.
View the Amendment Regulations (S.I. 2018/204).
View the explanatory memorandum.
View details of the U.K. Benchmark Regulations.
European Securities and Markets Authority Outlines 2018 Plans for EU Supervisory Convergence
In addition to the key priorities, the 2018 programme also sets out ESMA key objectives and main planned outputs in relation to a number of thematic and cross-cutting issues, including: investor protection and intermediaries; secondary markets; investment management; market integrity (including market abuse and benchmarks); post-trading (including CCPs, securities financing and settlement); corporate finance (in particular the new prospectus regime); corporate reporting; market data; financial innovation; IT infrastructure; and peer reviews.
The European Securities and Markets Authority has published its Supervisory Convergence Work Programme for 2018. It highlights a total of five key priorities for its work on supervisory convergence in 2018, comprised of three ongoing priorities (application of the revised Markets in Financial Instruments framework, data quality and investor protection) and two new priorities (Brexit and financial innovation).
EU Authorities Appoint Industry Working Group on Euro Risk-Free Rates
Following the November 2017 call for expressions of interest, the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the European Securities and Markets Authority and the Belgian Financial Services and Markets Authority announced the composition of a new working group on euro risk-free rates (that is, excluding bank credit risk). The working group will consist of 21 banks, which will be the voting members, and five non-voting industry associations (the European Money Markets Institute, the European Fund and Asset Management Association, the International Capital Market Association, the International Swaps and Derivative Association and the Loan Market Association). The European Investment Bank has also been invited to join the working group. The Commission, ECB, ESMA and FSMA will participate as observers. The working group is charged with identifying and recommending alternatives to the benchmark rates currently used in the EU – the EURIBOR and EONIA. The choice of alternative reference rates for the euro is expected by the end of 2018. The working group must also develop best practices for contract robustness and an adoption plan for the new reference rates, including any transitional plan for legacy contracts referencing the existing benchmarks.
View the working group information.
View the working group terms of reference.
Bank of England Confirms its Commitment to Wholesale Market Conduct Codes
The Bank of England has published statements of commitment to the FX Global Code, the UK Money Markets Code and the Global Precious Metal Code. By issuing the statements, the BoE is demonstrating that it will abide by the principles of the three market codes, both when acting as a market participant and also when its activities include acting as agent for HM Treasury in managing the UK's official reserves in the Exchange Equalisation Account. HM Treasury has separately confirmed that it is content with the BoE's ability to adhere to the codes. Six other central banks in the European System of Central Banks have also simultaneously issued their own statements of commitment to the Global FX Code and it is expected all ESCB banks will have done so by May 2018.
UK Benchmarks Legislation Published
The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Benchmarks) Regulations 2018 have been laid before Parliament and will come into force mainly on February 27, 2018. Certain provisions will come into force on July 1, 2018 and transitional provisions apply until revoked on May 1, 2020.
The UK already has a fairly comprehensive regime for benchmark regulation. The new UK Regulations make the necessary changes to UK primary and secondary legislation to align it with the EU Benchmarks Regulation, which introduces a common framework and consistent approach to benchmark regulation across the EU and which has been directly applicable throughout the EU since January 1, 2018. The UK Regulations appoint the Financial Conduct Authority as "competent authority" for the purposes of the EU Benchmarks Regulation.
UK Financial Conduct Authority Consults on Benchmarks Enforcement Powers
The UK Financial Conduct Authority has published a consultation setting out proposed changes to its Decision Procedure and Penalties manual and its Enforcement Guide. The amendments to DEPP and EG reflect changes introduced by the EU Benchmarks Regulation, which took effect on January 1, 2018. The Benchmarks Regulation has been implemented in the UK by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Benchmarks) Regulations 2018, which will make the necessary changes to the UK statutory framework when they come into force mainly on February 27, 2018.
EONIA Review Shelved
The administrator of the Euro OverNight Index Average, the European Money Markets Institute, has announced its decision not to pursue a thorough review of the EONIA benchmark.
EONIA represents the weighted average of all overnight unsecured lending transactions in the interbank market undertaken in the European Union and European Free Trade Association countries. EMMI, which also administers Euribor, had been engaged in a review program since December 2015 with the objective of enhancing EONIA's governance and operation to align it with the requirements of the EU Benchmarks Regulation, which took effect on January 1, 2018.
EU Secondary Legislation under the Benchmark Regulation Published
Four Commission Delegated Regulations supplementing the Benchmark Regulation have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The Benchmark Regulation regulates the provision of benchmarks, contributions of data to a benchmark and the use of benchmarks within the EU. It sets out the authorization and registration requirements for benchmark administrators, including third country entities, and stipulates requirements for governance and control of administrators. The Benchmark Regulation establishes different rules for different categories of benchmarks, depending on the risks involved, and imposes additional requirements on benchmarks considered to be critical. It also sets out the powers of national regulators to mandate, under certain conditions, contributions to or the administration of a critical benchmark.
New EU Securitization Framework Published
Two new EU Regulations introducing the new EU securitization framework for simple, transparent and standardized securitizations have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union - the STS Regulation and a Regulation amending the existing Capital Requirements Regulation. The two Regulations implement the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision's amended Securitization Framework for alternative regulatory capital treatment for simple, transparent and comparable securitizations in 2014 as part of Basel III.
The STS Regulation provides the criteria for identifying which securitizations will be designated as STS securitizations, a system to monitor the application of those criteria as well as common requirements on risk retention, due diligence and disclosure. Originators and sponsors will be required to notify the European Securities and Markets Authority of any securitization that meets the STS criteria and ESMA will maintain a list of all such securitizations on its website. The STS Regulation allows (but does not require) originators, sponsors and securitization special purpose entities to use third-party firms to assess whether a securitization meets the STS criteria, provided that those firms are authorized by the relevant national regulator.
European Securities and Markets Authority Publishes Final Technical Advice on the Short Selling Regulation
The European Securities and Markets Authority has published a final report setting out its technical advice to the European Commission on elements of the Short Selling Regulation that relate to market making, short-term bans on short selling and the transparency, reporting and disclosure requirements around net short positions. ESMA consulted on a draft of its technical advice in July 2017.
ESMA believes that the differentiation between the concepts of "market maker" under the revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and "market making activities" under the SSR should remain, but recommends revising the definition of "market making activities" under the SSR to ensure that certain activities carried out on a trading venue and OTC can benefit from the SSR exemption for market making activities. ESMA recommends extending the scope of the market making exemption to additional instruments that are currently only traded OTC and hedged through shares and sovereign debt.
UK Financial Conduct Authority Publishes Near-Final Rules for Implementation of the EU Benchmarks Regulation
The UK Financial Conduct Authority has published a Policy Statement setting out responses to its earlier consultation in June 2017 on proposed Handbook changes to ensure that the Handbook is consistent with the provisions of the EU Benchmarks Regulation, which takes effect on January 1, 2018. The Policy Statement includes further clarifications, in particular on the treatment of commodity benchmarks, on one-off application fees and annual periodic fees and on other Handbook rules and guidance that the FCA will apply in addition to the BMR.
The Policy Statement includes the final form of the legal instrument which contains the Handbook changes. The FCA will make the Handbook changes once it has the necessary regulatory authority under proposed changes to UK secondary legislation.
The Handbook changes will affect benchmark administrators and also firms that are already supervised under EU financial services legislation and that either use or contribute input data to benchmarks.
View the Policy Statement (PS17/28).
European Securities and Markets Authority Launches Three Consultations on Technical Standards under the Securitization Regulation
The European Securities and Markets Authority has issued three consultations on technical standards under the new EU framework for simple, transparent and standardized securitizations. The new framework is made up of the STS Regulation and amendments to the existing Capital Requirements Regulation. The STS Regulation, which will come into effect in 2018, provides the criteria for identifying which securitizations will be designated as STS securitizations, a system to monitor the application of those criteria as well as common requirements on risk retention, due diligence and disclosure. The amended CRR sets out the regulatory treatment of exposures to securitizations that are deemed to be STS securitizations.
The STS Regulation requires originators and sponsors to notify ESMA when a securitization meets the STS criteria and ESMA will maintain a list of all such securitizations on its website. The STS Regulation allows (but does not require) originators, sponsors and SSPEs to use third-party firms to assess whether a securitization meets the STS criteria, provided that those firms are authorized by the relevant national regulator.
European Commission Consults on Improving the SME Markets
The European Commission has published a consultation paper in which it seeks views on the main challenges for SME-dedicated markets and possible changes to EU legislation that might help build the EU high-growth SME markets. The consultation paper follows previous consultations and papers relating to the Capital Markets Union Action Plan.
The consultation focuses on SME Growth Markets, a new type of trading venue introduced under the Markets in Financial Instruments package. The consultation paper is split into two sections, the first of which considers the main drivers behind the downward trend of SME initial public offerings and bond issuances. The second section considers specific regulatory barriers to SME markets, small issuers and the local ecosystems surrounding SME markets. In particular, the Commission is seeking views on the MiFID II provisions which set the scope of SME Growth Markets, the market requirements for SME issuers to be assisted by a key adviser, delisting rules on SME Growth Markets and transfer of listings.
European Banking Authority Consults on Draft Technical Standards on Homogeneity of Underlying Exposures in Securitization
The European Banking Authority has launched a consultation on draft Regulatory Technical Standards on the homogeneity of underlying exposures in securitizations under the new EU framework for simple, transparent and standardized securitizations. The new framework is made up of the STS Regulation and amendments to the existing Capital Requirements Regulation. The STS Regulation, which will come into effect in 2018, provides the criteria for identifying which securitizations will be designated as STS securitizations, a system to monitor the application of those criteria as well as common requirements on risk retention, due diligence and disclosure for all financial services sectors. The amended CRR sets out the regulatory treatment of exposures to securitizations that are deemed to be STS securitizations.
The "simple" criterion provides, among other things, that the securitization must be backed by a pool of underlying exposures that are homogenous in terms of asset type and that the underlying exposures must include obligations that are contractually binding and enforceable, with full recourse to debtors and, where applicable, guarantors. The homogeneity requirement in the STS Regulation is designed to better enable investors to assess risk and conduct robust due diligence.
European Banking Authority Consults on Draft Technical Standards on Risk Retention for Securitization Transactions
The European Banking Authority has launched a consultation on draft Regulatory Technical Standards on risk retention requirements for originators, sponsors and original lenders under the new EU securitization framework for simple, transparent and standardized securitizations. The new framework is made up of the STS Regulation and amendments to the existing Capital Requirements Regulation. The STS Regulation, which will come into effect in 2018, provides the criteria for identifying which securitizations will be designated as STS securitizations, a system to monitor the application of those criteria as well as common requirements on risk retention, due diligence and disclosure for all financial services sectors. The amended CRR sets out the regulatory treatment of exposures to securitizations that are deemed to be STS securitizations.
The STS Regulation requires, among other things, originators, sponsors or original lenders of a securitization to retain on an ongoing basis a material net economic interest in the securitization of at least 5 %. The draft RTS specify in greater detail the risk retention requirement, including the modalities of retaining risk, the measurement of the level of retention, the prohibition of hedging or selling the retained interest and the conditions for retention on a consolidated basis.
European Securities and Markets Authority Consults on Regulatory Technical Standards for EU Prospectuses
The European Securities and Markets Authority has launched a consultation on draft Regulatory Technical Standards under the new EU Prospectus Regulation which entered into force on July 20, 2017. ESMA seeks feedback on the draft RTS in relation to: key financial information for the prospectus summary; data for the classification of the prospectus and how to ensure that such data is machine readable; advertisements; supplements; and publication of the prospectus.
ESMA invites responses to the consultation by March 9, 2018. ESMA will then finalize the draft RTS for submission to the European Commission by July 21, 2018.
View the consultation paper (ESMA31-62-802).
European Central Bank Consults on a New Unsecured Overnight Interest Rate
The European Central Bank has launched a consultation on the high level features of a new unsecured overnight interest rate for euro transactions, following its announcement of its intention to develop a new interest rate benchmark on September 21, 2017. This new ECB rate will represent the euro unsecured money market in the very short tenor (i.e. overnight) and will be based entirely on transactions in euro that are reported by banks in accordance with the ECB's money market statistical reporting. It will complement existing benchmark rates produced by the private sector and serve as a backstop reference rate.
This consultation is the first consultation in a process which, over the next two years, will see the ECB defining precisely what the new rate intends to measure, developing the calculation methodology and testing the robustness of the rate. The ECB is seeking feedback on a number of aspects in the design of the rate, including on the proposed definition of the rate's underlying interest and the scope of the rate. The ECB also welcomes feedback on any other high-level features or issues which should be taken into account.
Comments are invited by January 12, 2018. The ECB intends to produce the new rate by 2020.
View ECB consultation paper.
LIBOR Benchmark Confirmed until 2021
The Financial Conduct Authority has confirmed that the 20 panel banks for the LIBOR benchmark have agreed to support LIBOR until at least 2021. The announcement follows the statement by the FCA's Chief Executive, Andrew Bailey, earlier this year that the future of LIBOR could not be guaranteed because the underlying markets (the markets for unsecured wholesale term lending to banks) are no longer sufficiently active. Work around moving from LIBOR to alternative reference rates is underway. For example, the Bank of England announced in October this year that the implementation date for the reformed Sterling Overnight Index Average Interest Rate Benchmark, known as SONIA, would be April 18, 2018. The BoE took over as administrator of SONIA in April 2016. The transition to the reformed SONIA is set for April 2018.
View the FCA's statement.
View Andrew Bailey's speech.
European Commission Receives Recommendations on Improving the European Corporate Bond Markets
The European Commission has published a Report of the Commission Expert Group on Corporate Bonds on improving the European corporate bond markets. The review of the EU corporate bond market is part of the European Commission's Capital Markets Union.
The Expert Group makes 22 recommendations which relate to six objectives for improving the functioning of the corporate bond markets in the EU. The recommendations include, among others, amending the Market Abuse Regulation to ease the market sounding requirements although no specific recommendations on how to achieve that are made. The requirements have been viewed as imposing disproportionate burdens on companies, underwriters and other persons. The Expert Group considers that the requirements are aimed at large and liquid markets and not the more local, less liquid markets, such as the corporate bond markets and that the effect of the burdensome requirements may deter intermediaries from conducting market soundings and also deter the less frequent issuers from carrying out new issuances.
Financial Stability Board Seeks More Action on Reforming Benchmarks
The Financial Stability Board has published a progress report on reforms to existing interest rate benchmarks and on the construction and implementation of alternative near risk-free interest rates (RFRs). This follows the FSB's recommendations for reforms in this area, published in July 2014. The report examines the progress made towards achieving those recommendations. The FSB’s recommendations in the July 2014 report called for a strengthening of existing interest rate benchmarks, such as LIBOR, EURIBOR and TIBOR, collectively coined “IBORs,” and other reference rates based on unsecured bank funding costs by underpinning them to the greatest extent possible with transaction data. In addition, the FSB proposed steps to develop alternative near risk-free interest rate benchmarks.
On the progress to fortify the IBORs the FSB notes that challenges remain. In particular, the FSB is concerned that the underlying reference transactions are limited for some maturities and that as a result some submissions remain based on various factors, including transactions and judgement of the submitters.
The FSB’s view is that good progress has been made with the second strand of the recommendations relating to the identification of RFRs. Alternative RFRs have been identified or selected in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States and headway has been made in reforming EONIA in the Euro area. The FSB encourages other member jurisdictions, such as Mexico and South Africa, to accelerate their intended measures. Furthermore, the FSB notes that limited advancement has been made towards transitioning the existing benchmarks to the RFRs and that impetus should be maintained to achieve the FSB recommendations.
The FSB will publish a further progress report in 2018.
View the progress report.
European Securities and Markets Authority Consults on Guidelines for Non-Significant Benchmarks
The European Securities and Markets Authority has launched a consultation on proposed Guidelines on the obligations applying to the provision of and contribution to non-significant benchmarks under the Benchmarks Regulation. The Benchmarks Regulation requires administrators of all benchmarks to establish a permanent and effective oversight function for the provision of their benchmarks. The proposed Guidelines detail the composition, characteristics, positioning and governance arrangements of the oversight function. The draft Guidelines also detail the governance and control requirements for supervised contributors. The proposed Guidelines would apply to administrators of benchmarks, supervised contributors of benchmarks and to the relevant benchmark national regulators.
The Benchmarks Regulation will apply in full from January 1, 2018. The consultation closes on November 30, 2017. ESMA intends to publish its final Guidelines after the European Commission has published its Delegated Regulations that also relate to these topics.
View the consultation paper.
EU to Establish Industry Working Group on Euro Risk-Free Rates
The European Commission, the European Central Bank, the European Securities and Markets Authority and the Belgian Financial Services and Markets Authority have announced that a new working group will be established which will be tasked with identifying and recommending alternatives to the benchmark rates currently used in the EU – the EURIBOR and EONIA. The working group, in consultation with market participants, will recommend an alternative risk-free reference rate and develop plans to transition from the existing benchmarks to the new RFR.
The European Central Bank also announced that it will start providing an overnight unsecured index before 2020 to provide further options for the choice of alternative rates for the euro area.
View the joint press release.
View the ECB’s press release.
European Securities and Markets Authority Consults on Guidelines on Internalised Settlement Reporting Under the Central Securities Depositaries Regulation
The European Securities Markets Authority has published a consultation on proposed guidelines to ensure common, uniform and consistent application of the provisions of the Central Securities Depositaries Regulation that apply to internalized settlement reporting and to the exchange of information between ESMA and national regulators.
European Securities and Markets Association Consults on Technical Advice on the Short Selling Regulation
The European Securities and Markets Association has published a consultation paper seeking views on aspects of its January 2017 mandate from the European Commission. The Commission mandate requests ESMA's technical advice on elements of the Short Selling Regulation that relate to market making, short-term bans on short selling and the transparency, reporting and disclosure requirements around net short positions.
European Commission Consults on Conflicts of Law Rules for Securities Ownership
The European Commission has published a consultation paper on conflicts of law rules for securities ownership, addressing so-called third party effects of transactions in securities and claims. The consultation relates to the Commission's Capital Markets Union and the objective of creating a single market for capital by facilitating cross-border investment.
European Securities and Markets Authority Publishes Final Draft Technical Standards Under the Benchmarks Regulation
The European Securities and Markets Authority has published its final Report containing draft regulatory and implementing technical standards under the Benchmarks Regulation. The Benchmark Regulation sets out the authorization and registration requirements for benchmark administrators, including third-country entities, and the requirements for governance and control of administrators. It provides for different categories of benchmarks depending on the risks involved, imposes additional requirements on benchmarks considered to be "critical" and gives powers to national regulators to mandate, under certain conditions, contributions to or the administration of critical benchmarks.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Adopts T+2 Settlement Cycle for Securities Transactions
The US Securities and Exchange Commission adopted an amendment to shorten by one business day the standard settlement cycle for most broker-dealer securities transactions. Currently, the standard settlement cycle for these transactions is three business days, known as T+3. The amended rule shortens the settlement cycle to two business days, T+2.
The amended rule is designed to enhance efficiency, reduce risk and ensure a coordinated and expeditious transition by market participants to a shortened standard settlement cycle.
Broker-dealers will be required to comply with the amended rule beginning on September 5, 2017.
View the final rule.
View the SEC fact sheet.
US Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Seeks Comments Regarding its Programs
FINRA issued a notice seeking comment from interested parties regarding its current engagement programs. The notice provides an overview of the engagement programs, with particular focus on FINRA’s committees, rulemaking process and member relations and related programs.
The notice is part of a new FINRA initiative to evaluate various aspects of its operations and programs to identify opportunities to more effectively further its mission. FINRA’s status as a self-regulatory organization (SRO) requires that FINRA engage effectively with its member firms, as well as investors and other stakeholders, many of whom devote time to these programs.
The comment period expires on May 5, 2017.
View the notice.
European Commission Requests Technical Advice for Prospectus Regulation Implementation
The European Commission has published a request to the European Securities and Markets Authority for technical advice on possible delegated acts under the Prospectus Regulation. The Prospectus Regulation has been agreed but is yet to be published in the Official Journal of the European Union. It will enter into force 20 days after publication and apply two years after publication - currently expected to be June 2019. The Prospectus Regulation will replace the existing Prospectus Directive and sets out the requirements for a prospectus to be published when securities are offered to the public or admitted to trading on a regulated market. The Prospectus Regulation aims to simplify the rules and administrative obligations for companies wishing to issue shares or debt on the market and reducing the costs of preparing a prospectus, thus fostering cross-border investments in the single market, while at the same time still enabling investors to make informed investment decisions.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Proposes Rule Amendments to Improve Municipal Securities Disclosures
The SEC proposed rule amendments to improve investor protection and enhance transparency in the municipal securities market. These proposed amendments are intended to provide timely access to information regarding certain financial obligations incurred by issuers and obligated persons that could impact such entities’ liquidity and overall creditworthiness.
Financial Conduct Authority Proposes Changes to UK Equity IPO Process
The Financial Conduct Authority launched a consultation on proposed changes to the availability of information in the UK equity IPO process. The consultation follows the discussion paper published by the FCA in April 2016. The FCA's view is that diverse and independent information is not available early enough in the IPO process. To address this issue, the FCA is proposing to amend the order in which the approved prospectus and connected research is made available to investors and to ensure that analysts from firms not supporting the IPO are provided with access to the issuer's management. In particular, the FCA is proposing that an approved prospectus or registration be published and unconnected analysts have access to the issuer's management before any connected research is released. In addition, the FCA is proposing to clarify, through supplemental guidance, that it would regard any interaction between analysts and issuers or their representatives to be participation in investment banking pitching efforts until the firm has accepted a mandate to carry out underwriting or placing services for the issuer and the firm's position in the syndicate has been determined.
The consultation closes on June 1, 2017. The FCA expects to publish a policy statement setting out the final changes, if any, before the end of 2017.
View the consultation paper.
View the discussion paper.
European Commission Publishes Roadmap for Addressing National Barriers to Capital Flows
The European Commission published a report on accelerating the Capital Markets Union by addressing national barriers to capital flows. The report is addressed to the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. It focuses on issues that may impede investors' cross-border operations throughout the investment cycle. The report identifies what it sees as the main barriers to investment and sets out a suggested roadmap for Member States to address these barriers, most of which are actionable in 2017. The issues identified in the report include marketing requirements, administrative arrangements, regulatory fees for cross-border marketing, different approaches to crowdfunding, residence requirements, insufficient financial literacy, differences in insolvency regimes and withholding tax relief. Member States are invited to agree on the actions set out in the roadmap although the Commission may also consider whether any legislative proposals are appropriate.
Member States have also been invited to identify other barriers in CMU-relevant areas, such as national reporting requirements imposed in addition to existing EU legislation, barriers to the online distribution of investment funds, obstacles for smaller institutional investors ineligible for a passport under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and challenges involved in the distribution of retail financial products.
View the Commission's report.
UK Regulator Publishes Data Suggesting Minor Decline in UK Corporate Bond Market Liquidity Conditions
The Financial Conduct Authority published a research paper summarizing its most recent research into liquidity conditions in the UK corporate bond market. The report concludes that there has been a general decline in liquidity since mid-2014. This stands in contrast to previous research undertaken by the FCA for the period between 2008 and 2014 which found little evidence of a quantifiable deterioration in liquidity. The publication extends the analysis to include the period after 2014 incorporating new data about orders and quotes with a finding that there has been a moderate decline in transaction-based proxies for liquidity. The research also highlights that there has been an increase in the amount of failed or rejected trades, an increase in the amount of time taken to fill an order, decline in dealer quote rates on electronic bond trading platforms as well as a slight widening of some quoted and effective bid-ask spreads. The paper concludes that the combination of the information suggests that trading conditions in the UK have become more difficult over the past 18-24 months, however, the market is still relatively robust.
View the research paper.
UK Regulator Proposes Changes to UK Listing Rules
The Financial Conduct Authority has published a consultation paper proposing amendments to the Listing Rules of the FCA's Handbook. The FCA is proposing to, among other matters, (i) clarify the premium listing eligibility requirements and introduce new technical notes and additional guidance to give more context to the rules; (ii) introduce a new concessionary route to premium listing for certain property companies that cannot meet the track record requirements so that a property valuation report may be used to assess the company's eligibility for a premium listing; (iii) introduce new technical notes on the concessionary routes; (iv) amendments to the profit test within the class tests which are used to determine which governance requirements a premium listed issuer must comply with for certain large transactions; and (v) in the context of reverse takeovers, reversing the assumption of insufficient information being available to the market where a target issuer cannot provide that information so that the assumption will be that the market can operate smoothly on the basis of information that listed companies make publicly available as part of their disclosure of inside information requirements under MAR.
The FCA's discussion paper on the review of the effectiveness of the UK primary markets should be read in conjunction with the consultation paper. Responses to the FCA's proposed rule changes are requested by May 14, 2017. The FCA intends to publish its final rules in a Policy Statement in the second half of 2017.
View the consultation paper.
View the discussion paper.
UK Regulator Launches Review of UK Primary Markets
The Financial Conduct Authority launched its review into the effectiveness of primary markets by publishing a discussion paper on the UK primary markets landscape. The FCA is seeking views on how the UK primary capital markets can meet the needs of investors and operate effectively. It includes an overview of the UK's primary markets, how the listing regime fits in, the FCA's regulatory role and key trends in the UK's primary equity markets.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Signs Memorandum of Understanding with Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission
The SEC announced the establishment of a comprehensive arrangement with the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC). The new supervisory cooperation arrangement will augment the SEC’s and the SFC’s ability to share information about regulated entities that operate in the United States and Hong Kong, including investment advisers, broker-dealers, securities exchanges, market infrastructure providers and credit rating agencies. The new comprehensive arrangement expands upon the one from 1995 that was limited to investment management activities.
Supervisory cooperation arrangements establish mechanisms for ongoing consultation and the exchange of information regarding the oversight of global firms and markets. Such information may include routine supervisory information as well as information regulators need to monitor risk concentrations, identify emerging risks and better understand a globally active regulated entity’s compliance culture. These arrangements also facilitate the ability of the SEC and its counterparts to conduct on-site examinations of registered entities located outside the United States.
View Memorandum of Understanding.
Members of EU High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance Appointed
The European Commission announced the membership composition of the High-Level Expert Group on sustainable finance. The purpose of the Expert Group is to provide recommendations for a comprehensive EU strategy on sustainable finance as part of the Capital Markets Union. The Commission will draw on such recommendations when determining how to integrate considerations of sustainability into the EU’s rules for the financial sector. The Group’s advice will outline how the EU should design appropriate and proportionate financial policies, incentives and signals for financial institutions, corporate capital-raisers and markets to direct capital towards sustainable finance and to take operational steps to protect the stability of the financial system from risks related to the environment. The Group will start meeting as of January 2017. An interim report is expected around the middle of the year and a final report in December 2017.
View the announcement.
European Banking Authority Recommendations for the EU Covered Bonds Framework
The European Banking Authority published recommendations for harmonizing the EU framework for covered bonds. For banks investing in covered bonds that meet certain criteria, the Capital Requirements Regulation sets preferential risk weights to be applied. The recommendations are set out in a report which builds on the EBA's 2014 Report on EU covered bond frameworks and capital treatment. The aim of the recommendations is to ensure that only financial instruments which comply with certain harmonized structural, credit risk and prudential standards are capable of being covered bonds, and as such have access to the special regulatory and capital treatment provided. Harmonizing the EU framework on covered bonds is part of the Capital Markets Union initiative launched by the European Commission in September 2015
Provisional EU Agreement on Draft Prospectus Rules as Part of Capital Markets Union
The Council of the European Union announced the conclusion of a provisional agreement with representatives of the European Parliament on new rules on prospectuses for the issuing and offering of securities. The draft Prospectus Regulation is part of the EU's Capital Markets Union plan. The proposed Prospectus Regulation will replace the current EU Prospectus Directive, revising the regime for companies to raise money on public markets or by public offer to potential investors. The aim is to simplify the rules and administrative obligations for companies wishing to issue shares or debt on the market and reducing the costs of preparing a prospectus, thus fostering cross-border investments in the single market, while at the same time still enabling investors to make informed investment decisions.
View the Council's press release.
You may like to view our client note on the European Commission's proposal for a Prospectus Regulation.
Final EU Technical Advice Under Benchmark Regulation Published
The European Securities and Markets Authority published its final Technical Advice to the European Commission on certain aspects of the EU Benchmark Regulation. The Benchmark Regulation sets out the authorization and registration requirements for benchmark administrators, including third-country entities, and the requirements for governance and control of administrators. It provides for different categories of benchmarks depending on the risks involved, imposes additional requirements on benchmarks considered to be "critical" and gives powers to national regulators to mandate, under certain conditions, contributions to or the administration of critical benchmarks. The European Commission requested the Technical Advice from ESMA in February 2016. The Technical Advice covers: (i) the definition of benchmarks; (ii) measurement of the reference value of benchmarks; (iii) criteria for the identification of critical benchmarks; (iv) endorsement of a benchmark or family of benchmarks provided in a third country; and (v) transitional provisions.
The majority of the Benchmark Regulation will apply from January 1, 2018. Certain provisions, giving powers to ESMA to prepare draft technical standards and to the Commission to adopt delegated legislation, applied from June 30, 2016. ESMA intends to publish its final draft technical standards due under the Benchmark Regulation by April 1, 2017.
View the Technical Advice.
Progress Report on Implementation of Global Securities Reforms
The International Organization of Securities Commissions published a report on the implementation of global securities reforms. The report sets out the progress made by jurisdictions in implementing changes in securities regulation relating to hedge funds, structured products and securitization, oversight of credit rating agencies, measures to safeguard the efficiency and integrity of markets and supervision and regulation of commodity derivative markets.
View the implementation report.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Adopts Final Rules to Facilitate Intrastate and Regional Securities Offerings
The SEC adopted final rules that modernize how companies can raise money to fund their businesses through intrastate and small offerings while maintaining investor protections.
The final rules amend Securities Act Rule 147 to modernize the safe harbor under Section 3(a)(11) of the Securities Act, so issuers may continue to use state law exemptions that are conditioned upon compliance with both Section 3(a)(11) and Rule 147. The final rules also establish a new intrastate offering exemption, Securities Act Rule 147A, that further accommodates offers accessible to out-of-state residents and companies that are incorporated or organized out-of-state.
US Federal Reserve Board Announces Plans to Collect Data from Banks on Secondary Market Transactions in US Treasury Securities
The US Federal Reserve Board announced that it plans to begin collecting data on Treasury security secondary market transactions from banks. The Federal Reserve Board intends to negotiate with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority to potentially act as the collection agent for this data on behalf of the Federal Reserve Board. These plans are intended to complement a recent FINRA rule change, approved by the SEC, requiring broker-dealers to report secondary market transactions in Treasury securities. The release cited the Inter Agency Working Group’s report on the market events of October 15, 2014, as recommending enhanced data collection activities. The Federal Reserve Board intends to seek public comment on the proposal.
View Federal Reserve Board release.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Proposes Amendments to Require Hyperlinks to Exhibits in Filings
The SEC proposed rule and form amendments that would require certain registrants to include a hyperlink to exhibits in their filings, thereby making it easier to locate documents attached to company filings. The proposed amendments would require registrants that file registration statements and periodic and current reports that are subject to the exhibit requirements under Item 601 of Regulation S-K, or that file on Forms F-10 or 20-F, to include a hyperlink to each exhibit listed in the exhibit index of the filings. The public comment period will remain open for 45 days following publication in the Federal Register.
View the proposed rule.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Adopts Amendments Providing Authorities Access to Data Obtained by Security-Based Swap Data Repositories
The SEC adopted amendments to a rule that requires security-based swap data repositories to make data available to regulators and other authorities, allowing them to share information and more effectively oversee the security-based swap market.
The Dodd-Frank Act establishes provisions for regulators to access security-based swap data from data repositories. Building on a proposal from September 2015, the final rule amendments implement these provisions and, among other things: (i) require either a memorandum of understanding or other arrangement between the SEC and the recipient of the data to address the confidentiality of the security-based swap data provided to the recipient; (ii) identify the five prudential regulators named in the statute, as well as the Federal Reserve banks and the Office of Financial Research, as being eligible to access data; and (iii) address factors that the SEC may consider in determining whether to permit other entities to access data.
View The final rule.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Amends Investment Advisers Act Rules and Forms
The SEC published a final rule adopting amendments to Form ADV and several rules under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 aimed at enhancing disclosure of information by investment advisers. The amendments will require investment advisers to provide additional information about various aspects of their businesses, including separately managed account business, branch operations, and their use of social media. The amendments will also facilitate streamlined registration and reporting by groups of funds and require advisers to maintain additional records related to adviser performance information. The amendments will become effective 60 days after their publication in the Federal Register, and advisers will be required to comply with the amended rules on October 1, 2017.
View the SEC’s final rule.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Invites Comments on Regulation S-K Disclosure Requirements
The SEC issued a request for comment on Subpart 400 of Regulation S-K, which requires certain disclosures about management, certain security holders and corporate governance of the disclosing firm. The request is part of a broader initiative to improve the disclosure requirements of Regulation S-K. The review will also inform the study mandated by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act which requires the SEC to study Regulation S-K requirements in order to best modernize and simplify the substance of the disclosure requirements as well as the manner of the presentation of disclosed information. Input may include comments on existing requirements as well as potential disclosure issues that commenters believe Regulation S-K should address. The comment period is open for 60 days after the publication of the release in the Federal Register.
The SEC’s request for comment.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Proposes Amendments to Update and Simplify Disclosure Requirements
The SEC proposed amendments to eliminate redundant, overlapping, outdated or superseded provisions of its rules, in light of subsequent changes to public disclosure requirements, accounting standards and technology. The amendments, along with comments received on a release seeking information to simplify and improve disclosure requirements under Regulation S-K, are designed to further inform the Commission’s actions to enhance disclosure effectiveness and efficiency. The SEC is also seeking comment on certain disclosure requirements that overlap with US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) to determine whether to retain them or refer them to the Financial Accounting Standards Board for incorporation into GAAP. The proposed amendments are part of a broader staff review of the disclosure requirements that issuers are required to make to investors and the requirements of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST) to eliminate provisions of Regulation S-K that are duplicative, overlapping, or unnecessary. There will be a 60-day comment period.
View The SEC’s proposed amendments.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Amends Rules Related to Security-Based Swap Transaction Reporting
The SEC adopted a series of amendments and related guidance regarding Regulation SBSR, which governs the regulatory reporting and public dissemination of security-based swap transactions. The amendments, among other things, assign reporting duties for platform-executed security-based swaps submitted for clearing and those resulting from the clearing process, establish reporting and publication requirements for certain cross-border security-based swaps, and prohibit swap data repositories from imposing fees or usage restrictions on data that Regulation SBSR requires be made public. The goal of the amendments and guidance is to increase transparency in the security-based swap market by facilitating better public access to transaction information and expanding the scope of Regulation SBSR to cover additional transactions and entities. The amendments and guidance will be effective on October 11, 2016. The rules and guidance also establish a compliance schedule for portions of Regulation SBSR, providing that transaction reporting will not begin until after security-based swap dealers and major security-based swap participants have registered with the SEC.
View the final rule.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Proposes Requiring Investment Advisers to Adopt Business Continuity and Transition Plans
The SEC proposed a rule that would require registered investment advisers to adopt and implement written business continuity and transition plans. The new rule requires investment advisers to prepare in advance for significant disruptions in their operations—whether temporary or permanent (such as a natural disaster, cyber-attack, technology failures, etc.)—thereby mitigating client and investor harm.
The proposed rule would require an adviser’s plan to be based on the particular risks associated with its operations, but also include policies and procedures addressing specified components, such as the maintenance of systems and protection of data, pre-arranged alternative physical locations, communication plans and review of third-party service providers. The rule would allow advisers to tailor the detail of their plans to the complexity of their business operations.
SEC Chair Mary Jo White commented that this rule was “the latest action in the Commission’s efforts to modernize and enhance regulatory safeguards for the asset management industry.” In addition to the proposed rule, the SEC staff issued related guidance addressing business continuity planning for registered investment companies, including oversight of operational capabilities of key fund service providers.
View the SEC press release.
View the proposed rule.
View SEC staff guidance.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Proposes Amendments to Smaller Reporting Company Definition
The SEC voted to propose amendments that would increase the financial thresholds in the “smaller reporting company” definition. By expanding the number of companies that qualify as smaller reporting companies, the proposal is intended to “promote capital formation and reduce compliance costs for smaller companies” according to SEC Chairman Mary Jo White. Smaller reporting companies may qualify for scaled disclosures provided in Regulations S-K and Regulations S-X.
The proposed rules would enable a company with less than $250 million of public float to provide scaled disclosure as a smaller reporting company, as compared to the $75 million threshold under the current definition. If a company does not have a public float, it would be permitted to provide scaled disclosures if its annual revenues are less than $100 million, as compared to the current threshold of less than $50 million in annual revenues.
It is important to note, however, that the SEC is not proposing to increase the $75 million threshold in the “accelerated filer” definition. As a result, smaller reporting companies with $75 million or more of public float will be subject to accelerated filer requirements.
View SEC press release.
View the proposed rule.
US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Approves Final Rule to Revise the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule
The FDIC released a final rule revising the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule (12 C.F.R. Part 360.6) to clarify that its requirement that servicers of securitized assets take loss mitigation action within 90 days after an asset becomes delinquent does not conflict with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Regulation X (12 C.F.R. Part 1024), which prohibits a mortgage loan servicer from initiating foreclosure notices or filings unless a mortgage loan is more than 120 days delinquent. Specifically, the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule is being revised to clarify that documents governing a securitization transaction need not require the servicer of securitized assets to take any action that would be prohibited by Regulation X in order to satisfy the 90-day loss mitigation requirement of the securitization safe harbor. The final rule is effective July 27, 2016.
View the FDIC final rule.
European Securities and Markets Authority Publishes Technical Standards on Settlement Discipline
The European Securities and Markets Authority published a final report setting out draft Regulatory Technical Standards on settlement discipline as required under the Central Securities Depository Regulation. The RTS cover measures for preventing settlement fails through automated matching, a hold and release mechanism, and partial settlement. The RTS also provide measures for monitoring and addressing settlement fails such as a mechanism for cash penalties and a buy-in process. ESMA has submitted the final draft RTS to the European Commission for endorsement.
View the Final Report and RTS.
European Commission Publishes Proposed Prospectus Regulation
The European Commission published a proposed Prospectus Regulation as part of the EU Capital Markets Union initiative. The proposed Prospectus Regulation would replace the current EU Prospectus Directive, revising the regime for companies to raise money on public markets or by public offer to potential investors. The key changes include: (i) increasing the threshold for when a prospectus would be required for offers with a total consideration from €100,000 to €500,000; (ii) removing the option for Member States to require a prospectus below that minimum threshold; (iii) giving Member States the option to give an exemption from the prospectus requirement for capital raisings with a total consideration of between €500,000 and €10 million for domestic offers for which no passport notification to other Member States is required; (iv) aligning the definition of SMEs with that under the new Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) so that the SME-specific regime is also available to SMEs with an average market capitalisation of less than €200 million, (increased from €100 million) not listed on a regulated market; (v) creating a system for frequent issuers using an annual "Universal Registration Document"; (vi) providing for a simplified disclosure regime for secondary issuances by listed firms; and (vii) establishing a single access point, provided by the European Securities and Markets Authority, for all prospectuses approved within the European Economic Area, although approvals will remain the responsibility of national listing agencies.
View the Proposed Regulation.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Adopts Rules to Permit Crowdfunding
The US SEC issued final rules providing a framework of regulation to allow companies to offer and sell securities through crowdfunding. Concurrent with the adoption of the final rule, the SEC also proposed amendments to Rule 147 and Rule 504 of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, to facilitate intrastate and regional offerings. The proposed amendments to Rule 504 of the Securities Act would increase the aggregate amount that may be offered and sold pursuant to the rule from $1 million to $5 million and apply bad actor disqualifications to Rule 504 offerings. The final rules enable individuals to purchase securities in crowdfunding offerings, subject to certain limits. Specifically, the rules: (i) allow a company to raise up to a maximum aggregate amount of $1 million through crowdfunding offerings in a 12-month period; (ii) permit individual investors to invest in crowdfunding offerings, subject to specified limits over a 12-month period; and (iii) limit the aggregate amount of securities sold to an investor during any 12-month period to an amount not to exceed $100,000. In addition, companies that conduct crowdfunding offerings must, pursuant to the adopted rules, make certain disclosures about their business as well as the offering. The adopted crowdfunding rules and forms will be effective 180 days after publication in the Federal Register and the forms permitting funding portals to register with the SEC will be effective January 29, 2016. Public comments on the proposed amendments to Rule 147 and Rule 504 are open for a 60-day period following their publication in the Federal Register.
View the final rule.
View the proposed rules.
European Securities and Markets Authority Publishes Final Guidelines on Alternative Performance Measures
The European Securities and Markets Authority published its final Guidelines on Alternative Performance Measures for listed issuers. An APM is a financial measure of historical or future financial performance, position or cash flow and is usually derived from financial statements prepared by an issuer. The Guidelines aim to assist users in making investment decisions and encourage European issuers to publish comparable, transparent and reliable information on their financial performance so that users can obtain a comprehensive understanding of their performance. The Guidelines apply to issuers with securities traded on regulated markets who are required to publish regulated information under the EU Transparency Directive, any persons responsible for drawing up a prospectus under the EU Prospectus Directive and relevant EU national regulators. The guidelines will apply to APMs disclosed on or after July 3, 2016.
View the Guidelines.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Announced New Rulemaking Database
The SEC announced the launch of a new rulemaking database to provide for greater transparency into the SEC’s rulemaking process. Unlike the structure of the current SEC website, the new database allows users to sort rules by date, status (e.g., proposed, completed, etc.), and SEC division (e.g., Investment Management, Trading and Markets, etc.).
View the SEC announcement of the new database.
View the SEC rulemaking index.
European Commission Consults on EU Covered Bond Framework
The European Commission launched a consultation on proposed action to address the legal and practical issues in the EU covered bond market to facilitate cross-border investment within the EU and from third countries. The consultation forms part of the Commission's Capital Markets Union initiative. The regulation of covered bonds is a matter of Member State national laws although the prudential treatment of covered bonds is provided for in a variety of EU legislative acts such as the Units for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities Directive, the Capital Requirements Regulation and the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive. There are differences between the legal frameworks and supervisory practices of various EU Member States for covered bonds as highlighted by the European Banking Authority in its July 2014 report. The Commission is proposing a more integrated EU-wide covered bond framework that could be reflected in legislation and/or a set of recommendations and the consultation paper includes a discussion of the various approaches that might be taken in an effort to introduce harmonisation across the EU. The consultation closes on January 6, 2016.
View the EU Covered Bond consultation paper.
European Securities and Markets Authority Consults on Regulatory Technical Standards for European Single Electronic Format under Transparency Directive
The European Securities and Markets Authority published a consultation paper on proposals for draft Regulatory Technical Standards on the European Single Electronic Format, the new format for annual financial reports, required under the Transparency Directive. The Transparency Directive requires issuers listed on regulated markets to prepare their annual financial reports in a new format from January 1, 2020. The new format aims to improve comparability and analysis for investors and regulators as well as simplify annual report submissions for issuers. The consultation paper assesses current practices and formats of annual financial reports and considers the options for harmonising the format of reports required under the Transparency Directive. ESMA is seeking views on its proposals in order to finalise draft RTS for submission to the European Commission before the end of 2016. Comments on the consultation are due by December 24, 2015.
View the consultation.
International Organization of Securities Commissions Publishes Final Report on Cross-Border Regulation in the Securities Markets
The International Organization of Securities Commissions published a final report on the cross-border regulation of the global securities markets. The report sets out the cross-border regulatory toolkit of regulatory options available to national securities regulators, including an analysis of the approaches taken to cross-border regulation and the impact that the use of such cross-border regulatory tools may have on investor protection, markets and systemic risk. The tools that are used are classified into national treatment, recognition, and passporting. IOSCO undertook a survey of member jurisdictions to identify the tools that members currently use to regulate financial activities in the global securities markets. The report also sets out next steps for IOSCO, including considering (i) how to be more explicit in incorporating cross-border issues into its policy work; (ii) organizing workshops for regulators on the process and considerations for assessing foreign regulatory regimes under unilateral and mutual recognition or otherwise develop better understanding of the complex aspects of cross-border regulation; (iii) setting up an information repository of its members supervisory cooperation agreements; and (iv) setting up an information repository for recognition decisions, including the analyses that informed such decisions.
View the IOSCO Report.
International Organization of Securities Commissions Review of Implementation of Incentive Alignment Recommendations for Securitization
The International Organization of Securities Commissions published its final report on the peer review of implementation of incentive alignment recommendations for securitization. The report sets out the implementation progress of its recommendations, which were published in 2012, on incentive alignment in securitization. The recommendations relate to, amongst other things: (i) achieving global harmonization of incentives of investors and securitizers along the securitization value chain; (ii) jurisdictions evaluating and formulating approaches for such alignment; and (iii) minimizing any adverse effects of cross border securitization transactions that may arise due to different approaches in incentive alignment and risk retention. The review states that only five jurisdictions of the 25 jurisdictions have reported to have completed implementation of all the recommended measures: China, India, Indonesia, Japan and Turkey. Eleven jurisdictions have taken steps to implement all measures but those steps were either not all complete or were not yet in force across the whole securitization market: Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. The report also states that EU jurisdictions and the US were further progressed in implementation than other jurisdictions with smaller securitization markets. IOSCO aims to conduct a further adoption monitoring and implementation review in 2016.
View the report.
European Securities and Markets Authority Publishes Examples of Waivers for Pre-Trade Transparency Requirements under MiFID I
The European Securities and Markets Authority published a document setting out examples of waivers for pre-trade transparency requirements under the current Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and its implementing legislation, known as MiFID I. The document includes positions adopted by ESMA’s predecessor, the Committee of European Securities Regulators as well as opinions issued by ESMA. The document is intended to assist national regulators in ensuring that their supervisory practices are in line with ESMA’s opinions and to assist firms in determining the extent of the MiFID I requirements. Under MiFID I, operators of regulated markets and multilateral trading facilities must publish current bid and offer prices and the depth of trading interests in shares admitted to trading on a regulated market unless an exemption applies. Exemptions are available from national regulators for shares based on the market model or the type and size of orders. ESMA intends to update the document on an ongoing basis.
View the ESMA document.