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.
UK Parliamentary Committee Calls For Urgent Regulation of Crypto-Assets
The U.K. House of Commons Treasury Committee has published a report calling for crypto-assets to be regulated in the U.K. as a matter of urgency. The Treasury Committee considers that the current "ambiguity of the UK Government and regulators' position is clearly not sustainable" and is recommending that an amendment be made to the Regulated Activities Order to bring crypto-assets within the U.K. regulatory perimeter, supervised by the Financial Conduct Authority. The Committee does not specify in the report the activity related to crypto-assets that should go into the RAO, but recommends that it should at least include the issuance of crypto-assets through Initial Coin Offerings and the provision of crypto-exchange services. This will, according to the Committee's report, address anti-money laundering risks and consumer protection, aligning investor protections with those adopted in the U.S.
The Committee is also seeking various actions by the Government and the U.K. regulators.
International Standards Body Encourages Regulatory Clampdown on OTC Leveraged Products
The International Organization of Securities Commissions has published a report on retail OTC leveraged products, alongside a statement warning retail investors of the risks of investing in illegal or fraudulent binary options. This step at international level follows the temporary prohibition of the marketing, distribution or sale of binary options and the restrictions on the marketing, distribution or sale of CFDs to retail clients introduced in the EU earlier this year, which the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority fully supported.
The report covers rolling spot forex contracts, CFDs and binary options offered and sold on a domestic and cross-border basis by intermediaries to retail investors. The report includes three toolkits providing guidance to IOSCO member jurisdictions on methods for mitigating the harm to retail investors investing in these products.
UK Regulators Ask Large Banks and Insurers for LIBOR Transition Plans
The Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority have published letters addressed to the CEOs of the largest banks and insurers supervised in the U.K. asking for confirmation of each firm's preparations for transition from LIBOR to risk-free rates. The regulators are requesting these firms to provide the following by December 14, 2018:
- A summary of the firm's assessment of key risks relating to LIBOR discontinuation and details of actions the firm intends to take to mitigate those risks, approved by the board; and
- The names of the Senior Manager(s) responsible for the provision of the firm's response to the letter and for implementing its transition plans.
The letter relates to the ongoing global benchmark reform effort instigated by the Financial Stability Board, in particular, the transition from LIBOR to alternative rates by the end of 2021. Firms that have not received the letter are not subject to the information request, but the regulators ask those firms to nevertheless consider their LIBOR transition plans, where relevant.
View the letters.
Working Group Recommends Replacement of EONIA With New Euro Short-Term Rate
The European Central Bank has announced its recommendation of the Euro short-term rate - ESTER - as a euro risk-free rate by a private sector working group. The group also recommends that ESTER replaces the Euro overnight index average, EONIA, because EONIA no longer complies with the EU Benchmark Regulation and will be restricted from January 1, 2020. The recommendations of the working group are not legally binding.
According to the ECB, ESTER will also provide a basis for developing fallbacks for contracts referencing the EURIBOR because the reformed ESTER methodology will be assessed for compliance with the Benchmark Regulation in 2019. ESTER reflects wholesale Euro unsecured overnight borrowing costs of Euro area banks and will be produced by ECB by October 2019, at the latest.
EU Delegated Regulation on Settlement Discipline Published
A Commission Delegated Regulation on settlement discipline has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The Delegated Regulation sets out 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. The RTS will apply directly across the EU from September 14, 2020.
View the RTS.
EU Disagreement on EU Technical Standards for Reporting of Securities Financing Transactions
The European Securities and Markets Authority has published an Opinion on the European Commission's proposed amendments to the final draft Implementing and Regulatory Technical Standards on reporting under the Securities Financing Transactions Regulation. Various parts of the SFTR came into effect on January 12, 2016. However, the new reporting obligation for SFTs is not yet in force. Securities financing transactions involve the use of securities to borrow cash or other higher investment-grade securities, or vice versa. Such transactions can include repurchase transactions, securities lending and sell/buy backs. The SFTR requires, amongst other things, all securities financing transactions to be reported to EU recognized trade repositories, including details on the composition of collateral, whether collateral is available for reuse or has been reused, the substitution of collateral and any haircuts applied. The reporting obligation will apply to financial and non-financial counterparties, subject to exceptions for central banks and similar bodies.
European Banking Authority Proposes Revised Implementing Technical Standards for Reporting of Securitization Information
The European Banking Authority has published a consultation paper setting out proposed amendments to existing Implementing Technical Standards on supervisory reporting, to align the reporting of securitizations with the new EU securitization framework. The new securitization framework took effect in January 2018 and comprises: (i) the Securitization Regulation (also known as the STS Regulation), which lays down common due diligence for institutional investors, risk retention and transparency measures and establishes a category of simple, transparent and standardized securitization in the EU; and (ii) a Regulation making targeted amendments to the Capital Requirements Regulation to provide for the capital treatment of STS securitizations and certain SME synthetic securitizations, including measures to reduce reliance on external credit ratings.
EU Final Draft Technical Standards on Reporting and Disclosure Requirements for Securitizations
The European Securities and Markets Authority has published a final report and technical standards on the disclosure and reporting requirements under the EU Securitization Regulation (or STS Regulation). The Securitization Regulation requires originators and sponsors to notify ESMA of any securitization that meets the "Simple, Transparent and Standardized" criteria. ESMA will maintain a list of all such securitizations on its website. Securitization special purpose entities, originators and sponsors of a securitization will be required to make certain information available via a securitization repository to holders of a securitization position, to the national regulators and, upon request, to potential investors. The Securitization Regulation will apply directly across the EU from January 1, 2019 to securities issued under securitizations on or after January 1, 2019. Securitizations issued before that date may be referred to as STS securitizations provided that they meet certain conditions.
EU Implementing Regulations for Benchmark Regulation Published
Two Commission Implementing Regulations supplementing the Benchmark Regulation have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The Benchmark Regulation, which took effect across the EU in January 2018, 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.
Upcoming Priorities for the Global FX Code
The Global Foreign Exchange Committee has published a paper entitled: "The FX Global Code at One Year: a Look Back and a Look Ahead." The FX Global Code was published by the GFXC in May 2017. It superseded and substantively updated existing guidance for participants in FX markets previously provided by the Non-investment Products (NIPs) Code. The Code comprises a set of global principles of good practice for the FX market, covering a broad range of areas, including ethics, governance, execution, information-sharing, risk management, compliance, trade confirmation and settlement.
The paper discusses the achievements of the GFXC and the way in which the Code has been received by market participants over the past year. These include increased awareness of and commitment to the Code, further integration of the Code into the business practices of FX market participants and evolution of the Code with changes in the FX market, in particular for transparency and disclosure.
The GFXC's upcoming priorities are outlined in the paper. These include:
- continuing the existing GFXC working groups - the disclosures working group and the cover and deal working group; and
- establishing two new GFXC working groups - one on buy-side outreach and the other to further integration of the Code.
View the paper.
UK Conduct Regulator Consults on Rule Alignments for EU Securitization Framework
The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has launched a consultation on proposed changes to its rules to ensure consistency with the provisions of the directly applicable EU Securitization Regulation (also known as the STS Regulation) and related amendments to the Capital Requirements Regulation, which take effect across the EU on January 1, 2019. This forthcoming EU legislation will introduce a new framework for simple, transparent and standardized securitizations, intended to make the EU securitization market function more effectively.
Global Recommendations for Trading Venues to Manage Extreme Volatility
The International Organization of Securities Commissions has published a report on mechanisms used by trading venues to manage extreme volatility and preserve orderly trading. Following its consultation earlier this year, IOSCO is making eight recommendations for trading venues and their regulators to consider when implementing, operating and monitoring volatility control mechanisms to preserve orderly trading.
Final Draft EU Technical Standards on Securitization Risk Retention Requirements
The European Banking Authority has published a final report and final draft Regulatory Technical Standards under the EU Securitization Regulation (or STS Regulation) on the risk retention requirements for originators, sponsors and original lenders. The Securitization 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 final 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.
The final draft RTS have been submitted to the European Commission for endorsement. The final RTS will apply directly across the EU twenty days after publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.
The Securitization Regulation, which will apply from January 1, 2019, has replaced the risk retention requirements in the Capital Requirements Regulation. Once the final RTS enter into force, the existing Commission Delegated Regulation ((EU) No 625/2014) on risk retention requirements, made under the Capital Requirements Regulation, will be repealed.
View the final draft RTS.
View the existing Delegated Regulation on risk retention requirements.
View details of the EBA's consultation on the draft RTS.
European Banking Authority Makes Policy Recommendations for Proposed Introduction of European Secured Notes
The European Banking Authority has published a final report in response to a call for advice from the European Commission, in the context of the Commission's Capital Markets Union project, to help the Commission assess the case for introducing European Secured Notes, an additional instrument which would be available for institutions to gain funding on the capital markets, particularly infrastructure loans and loans to Small and Medium Sized Enterprises. ESNs are defined in the call for advice as "dual recourse financial instruments on an issuer's balance sheet applying the basic structural characteristics of covered bonds to two non-traditional cover pool assets - SME bank loans and infrastructure bank loans."
The Commission asked the EBA to assess whether a dual recourse instrument, similar to covered bonds, may provide a useful funding option to banks engaged in lending to SMEs and infrastructure projects and to determine an appropriate EU framework and regulatory treatment for this new product.
In the final report, the EBA: (i) assesses the business case for ESNs; (ii) analyzes the potential implications of issuances of ESNs on asset encumbrance; and (iii) considers the risk profile of SME loans and project finance. The EBA makes suggestions on the pool eligibility criteria and the structure and features of ESNs and on their potential regulatory treatment. The EBA makes five main policy recommendations on crucial aspects for the Commission to consider when possibly designing the legislative framework for ESNs. These relate to the structure, cover assets and regulatory treatment of SME ESNs, the EBA's reservations about introducing Infrastructure ESNs and the impact of ESNs on asset encumbrance.
View the final report.
UK Working Group Outlines Risk Mitigation Considerations for Bond Market Participants During Transition From LIBOR
The U.K. Working Group on Sterling Risk-Free Reference Rates has published a paper to raise awareness among market participants of some of the current market uncertainties surrounding issuance of long-dated bonds referencing LIBOR. The Working Group is tasked with helping to bring about broad-based transition to the Sterling Overnight Index Average rate by end-2021 across Sterling bond, loan and derivative markets. SONIA has been selected as the preferred alternative risk-free rate for Sterling and, among other work, the Working Group is in the process of developing market conventions for SONIA-linked bonds. A key milestone for the Working Group will be its publication, later in 2018, of best practice for referencing SONIA in bond markets.
In the paper, the Working Group outlines some of the risks faced by bond market participants who are continuing to issue, offer and purchase new Sterling bonds referencing LIBOR, in particular where those bonds are long-dated. "Long-dated" refers to bonds set to mature beyond the end of 2021, when banks' commitments to submit data for purposes of LIBOR are due to end. The Working Group suggests certain steps market participants could take to mitigate some of the risks arising where LIBOR continues to be referenced in new Sterling bonds issued in the interim period before market conventions and infrastructure for referencing alternatives to LIBOR are fully developed.
View the paper.
Bank of England Consults on Term SONIA Reference Rates
The Bank of England's Working Group on Risk-Free Reference Rates has launched a consultation on term reference rates for the Sterling Overnight Index Average.
The Working Group is tasked with facilitating the transition across sterling bond, loan and derivatives markets from the use of sterling LIBOR to the use of SONIA. The Working Group notes that SONIA is an overnight rate, while LIBOR is commonly referenced in longer tenors of three or six months. Some end-users in loan and debt capital markets have reported that term rates are essential for their business needs.
The consultation focuses on how a term SONIA reference rate (TSRR) can be constructed to facilitate sterling LIBOR transition in markets where term rates better suit users' needs. The Working Group seeks feedback on how the development of TSRRs could be catalyzed. The Working Group notes that the International Swaps and Derivatives Association is simultaneously consulting on preventing derivatives market disruption in the event a key IBOR is discontinued and that the Financial Stability Board has also recently stressed the importance to financial stability of transitioning most derivatives to robust overnight risk-free rates.
Comments on the consultation are invited by September 30, 2018. The Working Group anticipates that a number of steps would be required to produce robust and reliable TSRRs by the second half of 2019.
View the consultation paper.
View details of the ISDA consultation on IBOR fallbacks for OTC derivatives contracts.
View details of the Financial Stability Board's position paper.
Final Draft Technical Standards Under the EU Prospectus Regulation Published
The European Securities and Markets Authority has published a final report setting out Regulatory Technical Standards supplementing the Prospectus Regulation, which will apply fully across the EU from July 21, 2019. ESMA consulted on draft RTS in December 2017. The final draft RTS cover:
- the content and format of key financial information for the summary;
- the data necessary for the classification of prospectuses and the practical arrangements to ensure machine readability of that data;
- situations requiring a supplement to the prospectus to be published;
- requirements on the publication of the prospectus; and
- technical arrangements for the notification portal for passporting prospectuses.
ESMA has submitted the final draft RTS to the European Commission for endorsement.
View ESMA's final report.
Final Draft Technical Standards Under the Securitization Regulation Published
The European Securities and Markets Authority has published final draft technical standards under the Securitization Regulation (also known as the STS Regulation). Among other things, the Securitization Regulation, which will apply directly across the EU from January 1, 2019, provides the criteria for identifying which securitizations will be designated as "simple, transparent and standardized" (STS) securitizations. The Securitisation 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 Securitization 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.
ESMA is mandated under the Securitization Regulation to develop Regulatory Technical Standards and Implementing Technical Standards on these elements. ESMA consulted on proposed draft Technical Standards in December 2017.
EU Secondary Legislation for Money Market Funds Published
A Commission Delegated Regulation amending and supplementing the European Money Market Funds Regulation has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The MMF Regulation, which applies directly across the EU from July 21, 2018, allows MMFs to invest in securitizations or asset-backed commercial paper and incentivizes the investment in simple, transparent and standardized securitizations. The Delegated Regulation amends the MMF Regulation (or MMFR) by applying the requirements for STS securitizations provided for in the Securitization Regulation (also known as the STS Regulation).
The MMF Regulation also allows an MMF to enter into a reverse repurchase agreement provided that certain conditions are met. The assets received by the MMF under that agreement must be money market instruments that meet certain requirements. A derogation from those requirements provides that an MMF may also receive instruments that are either: (i) issued or guaranteed by the EU, a central authority or central bank of a Member State, the European Central Bank, the European Investment Bank, the European Stability Mechanism or the European Financial Stability Facility; or (ii) issued or guaranteed by a central authority or central bank of a third country. The Delegated Regulation supplements the MMF Regulation by providing the quantitative and qualitative liquidity requirements for the assets that an MMF receives under a reverse repurchase agreement where the derogation is being used.
European Commission Adopts Regulatory Technical Standards Under the EU Benchmarks Regulation
The European Commission has adopted a series of Commission Delegated Regulations comprising all of the Regulatory Technical Standards to supplement the EU Benchmarks Regulation. The Benchmark Regulation, which took effect across the EU in January 2018, 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 RTS outline the behaviors and standards expected of administrators of and contributors to benchmarks. The RTS adopted by the Commission are based on draft RTS prepared by the European Securities and Markets Authority in March 2017.
The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union will now have three months in which to raise any objections to the Delegated Regulations. The Delegated Regulations will take effect 20 days after their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.
European Securities and Markets Authority Consults on Minimum Standards for an Exemption from Providing a Prospectus Under the Prospectus Regulation
The European Securities and Markets Authority has published a consultation paper on its draft technical advice to the European Commission on the minimum information content of documents provided for the purpose of describing a takeover, merger or division. ESMA was mandated by the Commission in February 2017 to provide it with technical advice for the circumstance where, under the Prospectus Regulation, issuers can benefit from an exemption to the requirement to supply a prospectus when they offer or admit securities connected with a takeover, merger or division. Issuers may, as an alternative to a prospectus, make available to investors an alternative document, which describes the transaction and its impact on the issuer.
ESMA's technical advice sets out the minimum information content of documents describing a merger, division or takeover which is necessary for an exemption from the obligation to publish a prospectus. ESMA invites comments on a range of questions on the content of the following sections of such "exempted documents": (i) operative provisions and definitions; (ii) Minimum Information Content Simplified Disclosure Regime for the Issuer; (iii) the Minimum Information Content Securities; (iv) the Minimum Information Content Description and Impact of Takeover, Merger and Division.
The consultation on the draft technical advice closes on October 5, 2018. ESMA expects to publish its final report on its technical advice in Q1 2019.
View the consultation.
European Securities and Markets Authority Seeks Feedback on Proposed Risk Factors Guidelines Under the Prospectus Regulation
The European Securities and Markets Authority has published a consultation paper setting out draft guidelines for national regulators on risk factors under the Prospectus Regulation. ESMA has prepared the draft guidelines following a mandate from the European Commission to assist national regulators in their review of the specificity and materiality of risk factors within prospectuses and of the presentation of risk factors across categories depending on their nature.
The draft guidelines cover: (i) specificity; (ii) materiality; (iii) corroboration of the materiality and specificity; (iv) presentation of risk factors across categories; (v) focused/concise risk factors; and (vi) risk factors in the summary.
Comments on the draft guidelines are invited by October 5, 2018.
View the consultation paper.
Financial Stability Board Welcomes ISDA Consultation on Fall Backs Risk-Free Rates for Derivatives
The Financial Stability Board has published a statement welcoming the consultation by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association on fall backs based on overnight risk-free rates for certain derivative contracts. The statement has been issued to provide market participants with the FSB's views ahead of the consultation by ISDA. The FSB's view is that overnight RFRs are more robust than interbank or term rates because they are based on active and liquid underlying markets. Overnight RFRs are considered by the FSB to be a better choice than term rates for markets where participants do not need forward-looking term rates. The FSB stated that for those markets where the IBOR may cease, citing the example of LIBOR, a transition to new reference rates will be crucial. The FSB acknowledges the work to reform some IBORS excluding LIBOR. It is therefore unclear whether the FSB has factored in the recently announced changes to LIBOR methodology in making this assessment and reaching these conclusions.
International Swaps and Derivatives Association Consults on Fall Backs Based on Overnight Risk-Free Rates for Certain Derivatives
The International Swaps and Derivatives Association has launched a consultation in which it proposes to amend its standard documentation to implement fall-backs based on alternative risk-free rates for certain key Interbank Offered Rates - GBP LIBOR, CHF LIBOR, JPY LIBOR, TIBOR, Euroyen TIBOR and BBSW. ISDA states that the back-ups will apply if the relevant IBOR is permanently discontinued, based on defined triggers.
ISDA is seeking feedback on the approach to address certain technical issues arising from the necessary adjustments that will apply to the RFRs if the fall backs are triggered.
ISDA intends to consult on the technical issues for these changes for derivatives referencing USD LIBOR, EUR LIBOR and EURIBOR at a later date. It requests preliminary feedback on the technical issues associated with fall-backs for these benchmarks in this consultation.
Responses to the consultation should be submitted by October 12, 2018. ISDA will determine which approach to adopt based on the feedback and will publish the final approach for review and comment before implementing any changes to the ISDA standard documentation.
The FSB issued a statement on the same day welcoming ISDA's consultation and encouraging market participants to respond to the proposals.
View ISDA's consultation.
View details of the FSB's statement.
UK Legislation Published to Permit Islamic Bonds to be Traded on More Venues
The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) Order 2018 has been made and comes into force on July 11, 2018. The Order amends the definition of "Alternative Finance Investment Bonds" in the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) Order 2001. The result of the amendment is that AFIBs, such as Sukuk, will be permitted to trade on multilateral trading facilities or organised trading facilities and ensure AFIBs are treated in the same way as conventional bonds for trading purposes.
The amendment removes a glitch creating disparity of treatment between AFIBs and conventional bonds, which had created an obstacle to the use of U.K. venues for the issue and trading of AFIBs. This was contrary to the U.K. Government's standing commitment to provide a level playing field for Islamic finance instruments in regulation and taxation in the U.K.
UK Financial Policy Committee Outlines Steps to Reduce Risks to the UK's Financial Stability
The Bank of England has published a Financial Stability Report, dated June 2018, and a record of the Financial Policy Committee Meeting held on June 19, 2018. The Report sets out the FPC's view of the U.K.'s financial stability, the resilience of the U.K.'s financial system and the risks posed to each of those. Where applicable, the Report also notes the steps that the FPC is taking to address the risks. The record of the meeting provides a summary of issues discussed by the FPC in June.
New UK Standard on Risk Management Transactions for New Issuances for the Fixed Income Markets
The U.K. Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities Markets Standards Board has published a new Standard on Risk Management Transactions for New Issuances for the Fixed Income markets.
The FMSB has created several Standards to improve conduct in the FICC markets since its establishment in 2015 in response to the Fair and Effective Markets Review conducted by HM Treasury, the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority. FMSB members commit to applying the FMSB Standards but the Standards do not impose legal or regulatory obligations.
The new Standard describes expected behaviors to improve the practice and awareness regarding risk management activities conducted in and around the new issuance of bonds and includes 12 Core Principles. Following its consultation at the end of 2017 on the proposed Standard on Risk Management Transactions for New Issuances, the FMSB has made some minor changes, including providing more detail on the nature of the conduct risks and amending the Principle on dissemination of information (Core Principle 9).
UK Regulations Implementing Parts of the Prospectus Regulation Published
The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Prospectus and Markets in Financial Instruments) Regulations 2018, dated June 27, 2018, have been laid before Parliament. The U.K. Regulations will come into force on July 21, 2018, implementing parts of the Prospectus Regulation that will apply from that date. 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. The remainder of its provisions take effect on July 21, 2019.
U.K. law is not needed to transpose the Prospectus Regulation, which will be directly applicable across the EU. However, certain U.K. legislation will need to be amended to ensure that there is no conflict of laws. The U.K. Regulations amend the Financial Services and Markets Act by increasing the threshold, from €5 million to €8 million, for which a prospectus is required for an offer of securities to the public within the U.K. The U.K. Regulations also amend the U.K. legislation that implemented the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, including by correcting the definition of a MiFID investment firm.
View the U.K. Regulations (S.I. 2018/786).
View the explanatory memorandum.
European Money Markets Institute Confirms Certain Changes for Euribor
The European Money Markets Institute has published a feedback summary report on its March 2018 consultation on a hybrid determination methodology for the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor). EMMI is the administrator for Euribor, a major euro interest reference rate for unsecured interbank short-term lending and borrowing. Euribor was classed as a critical benchmark of systemic importance for financial stability by the European Commission in 2016.
EMMI consulted on: (i) introducing a three-level "hybrid" methodology for calculating Euribor; (ii) producing an overnight tenor for Euribor following the implementation of the hybrid methodology; (iii) discontinuing the calculation of three of the eight tenors; (iv) clarifying Euribor's underlying interest; (v) ceasing the publication of individual Panel Banks' submissions; and (vi) simplifying the publication process.
European Central Bank Consults on Assessing Potential Successors to the EONIA Benchmark
The European Central Bank has published a consultation on behalf of the Working Group on Euro Risk-Free Rates. The ECB provides the secretariat for this Working Group. The Working Group is tasked, among other things, with identifying and recommending alternatives to Euro lending benchmark rates, namely EURIBOR and EONIA.
The administrator of EONIA announced in February 2018 that, due to prolonged structural change in the underlying interbank lending market that uses EONIA as a benchmark, EONIA's compliance with the EU Benchmarks Regulation by January 2020 "cannot be warranted" and that the ongoing review of EONIA would therefore be discontinued. The consultation invites comments on three euro risk-free rates that could potentially replace EONIA. These are:
- The euro short-term rate (ESTER), a new wholesale unsecured overnight bank borrowing rate that the ECB proposes to launch before 2020;
- GC Pooling Deferred, a one-day secured, centrally cleared, general collateral repo rate, which is produced by STOXX, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Deutsche Börse Group; and
- RepoFunds Rate, a one-day secured, centrally cleared, combined general and specific collateral repo rate, which is produced by NEX Data Services Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of NEX Group plc, soon to be acquired by CME Group.
European Securities and Markets Authority Publishes Annual Report
The European Securities and Markets Authority has published its Annual Report, dated June 15, 2018. The report sets out ESMA's key achievements against its 2017 objectives of promoting supervisory convergence, assessing risks to investors, markets and financial stability, completing a single rulebook for the EU financial markets and directly supervising trade repositories, credit rating agencies and third-country CCPs. The report also discusses ESMA's contributions to the work of the Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities.
The report does not consider the focus areas for ESMA in 2018, which are set out in ESMA's work programes. However, ESMA indicates that in 2018 it will be, among other things: (i) issuing further opinions on pre-transparency waivers under the Markets in Financial Instruments package; (ii) engaging with credit rating agencies and trade repositories on their strategy, governance, operational matters and preparations for Brexit; and (iii) continuing its work to finalize the technical standards and technical advice under the EU Prospectus Regulation.
View ESMA's Annual Report.
European Money Markets Institute Announces Cessation of Three Euribor Tenors
The European Money Markets Institute has announced the planned cessation of three of the current tenors for the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor). EMMI is the administrator for Euribor, a major euro interest reference rate for unsecured interbank short-term lending and borrowing. Euribor was classed as a critical benchmark of systemic importance for financial stability by the European Commission in 2016.
EMMI published a consultation paper in March 2018 seeking views from stakeholders on a proposed hybrid determination methodology for Euribor that will transition Euribor away from a quote-based to a transaction-based methodology. As part of that consultation, EMMI sought feedback on whether to discontinue the calculation and publication of three of the eight tenors it publishes, due to low levels of activity underpinning the markets those tenors represent. The majority of respondents to the consultation supported the discontinuation of the two week, two month and nine month tenors and consequently EMMI will proceed with its proposal.
US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Issue Final Rule to Shorten Settlement Cycle
The US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation issued a final rule shortening the settlement cycle for securities purchased and sold by OCC- and FDIC-supervised financial institutions. This final rule follows the transition from a T+3 settlement cycle to a T+2 settlement cycle that occurred in the securities industry on September 5, 2017. The final rule codifies existing OCC and FDIC guidance published in June and July of 2017, respectively, which notified institutions that they should be in compliance with the T+2 settlement cycle by September 5, 2017. The final rule follows a September 2017 notice of proposed rulemaking published by the OCC and FDIC suggesting two alternatives to the wording of the final rule; one that made specific reference to the T+2 settlement cycle and one that made reference to the “standard settlement cycle followed by registered broker dealers in the United States.” The OCC and FDIC settled on the latter of these two options in order to maintain better alignment with the settlement cycle followed by the securities industry going forward. The final rule takes effect 30 days from the date of its publication in the Federal Register.
View full text of the final rule.
Proposed UK Good Practice on Information Confidentiality for the FICC Markets
The U.K. Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities Markets Standards Board has published for consultation a Transparency Draft of a new Statement of Good Practice on Information and Confidentiality for fixed income and commodities markets. The proposed Statement of Good Practice will apply in the European Fixed Income and Commodities markets. It is not intended to apply to the FX markets to which the FX Global Code applies, or to the precious metals markets, which are covered by the Precious Metals Code. The aim of the proposal is to clarify data sharing in the relevant markets and dealing with confidential information within a firm, including what information should not be shared with parties outside of a firm and what can be revealed when discussing "market color." The proposed Statement of Good Practice consists of nine Statements of Good Practice and an explanation of the rationale for each statement.
The consultation closes on August 31, 2018. The FMSB intends to publish the final Statement of Good Practice shortly thereafter. The Statements of Good Practice are not part of the FMSB Standards and are not binding on FMSB members, but reflect the FMSB's view of what constitutes good or best practice in the areas covered.
View the consultation paper.
European Commission Publishes Proposal for a Regulation on Sovereign Bond-Backed Securities
The European Commission has published a proposal for a Regulation to provide an enabling framework for a market-led development of Sovereign Bond-Backed Securities, following the publication of an inception impact statement in January 2018. The proposal forms part of the Commission's efforts to enhance the Banking Union and Capital Markets Union.
SBBSs are to be defined as instruments created by the private sector, whereby a private sector entity would assemble an underlying portfolio of sovereign bonds from the market and would subsequently transfer them to a legally separate, self-standing entity, specifically established for the sole purpose of issuing to investors a series of securities representing claims on the proceeds from this underlying portfolio. Losses from the portfolio would be borne in a certain sequence by tranches of issued securities.
European Commission Proposes Legislative Package on Sustainable Finance
The European Commission has published a package of legislative reforms on sustainable finance. The aim of the package of reforms, which form part of the Commission's broader Capital Markets Union initiative, is to ensure that environmental, social and governance considerations are consistently integrated into the investment and advisory process across sectors. The proposed measures comprise:
(i) a proposed Regulation on the establishment of a framework to facilitate sustainable investment. This will establish an EU-wide classification system for environmentally sustainable economic activities and ensure that investment strategies are oriented towards economic activities that genuinely contribute to achieving environmental objectives. The proposed Regulation will empower the European Commission to adopt delegated acts to specify technical screening criteria to assess the contribution of a given economic activity to a particular environmental objective as substantial. A list of six environmental objectives is set out in the proposed regulation, namely: climate change mitigation; climate change adaptation; sustainable use and protection of water and marine resources; transition to a circular economy, waste prevention and recycling; pollution prevention and control; and protection of healthy ecosystems (which includes biodiversity conservation).
European Commission Proposes Legislation to Promote SME Growth Markets
The European Commission has published a proposal for a Regulation to amend the Market Abuse Regulation and the new Prospectus Regulation. The aim of the proposed Regulation is to promote the use of SME Growth Markets by making technical adjustments to the MAR and the new PR to make the regulatory framework applying to listed Small and Medium-sized Enterprises more proportionate and to foster the liquidity of equity instruments listed on SME Growth Markets, while maintaining a high level of investor protection and market integrity. The proposed Regulation is in line with the objectives of the EU Capital Markets Union of reducing the overreliance on bank funding and diversifying market-based sources of financing for European companies.
SME Growth Markets are a new sub-category of multilateral trading facility introduced by the revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive in January 2018. Companies listed on an SME Growth Market are required to comply with MAR and the PR and are impacted by some aspects of MiFID II. The adjustments in the proposal for a Regulation are designed to lower the administrative burden and costs for issuers on SME Growth Markets stemming from compliance with MAR and the PR and to address regulatory shortcomings in MAR that can affect the liquidity of SME financial instruments. The European Commission has also published a separate proposal for a regulation amending delegated legislation under MiFID II to address regulatory barriers to the take-up of the SME Growth Markets.
European Commission Proposes MiFID II Amendments to Promote SME Growth Markets
The European Commission has published for consultation a draft Delegated Regulation on registration conditions to promote the use of SME Growth Markets for the purposes of the revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive. MiFID II introduced SME Growth Markets as a new sub-category of multilateral trading facility in January 2018 to facilitate access to capital for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. The proposed delegated regulation will amend existing delegated legislation under MiFID II to address regulatory barriers to the take-up of SME Growth Markets. The European Commission has also published separately a legislative proposal to make adjustments to the Market Abuse Regulation and the Prospectus Regulation is to promote the use of SME Growth Markets.
UK Prudential Regulation Authority Consults on Its Approach to New EU Securitization Framework and Significant Risk Transfer
The U.K. Prudential Regulation Authority has published a Consultation Paper, setting out the PRA's proposals on its approach to supervision under the new EU securitization framework that will take effect from January 1, 2019. The incoming EU framework consists of: (i) the Securitization Regulation, which imposes general requirements for all EU securitization activity and outlines the criteria and process for designating certain securitizations as "Simple, Transparent and Standardised"; and (ii) revisions to the banking securitization capital framework within the Capital Requirements Regulation.
International Bodies Publish Identification Criteria and Capital Treatment for Simple, Transparent and Comparable Short-Term Securitizations
The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and the International Organization of Securities Commissions have published an updated version of the sound practices document, "Criteria for identifying simple, transparent and comparable short-term securitisations", which was originally published in 2015. The Basel Committee has also published an updated version of its standards document, "Capital treatment for simple, transparent and comparable short-term securitisations".
The Basel Committee and IOSCO consulted on the proposed updated Criteria in July 2017. The Basel Committee consulted at the same time on proposed additional guidance and requirements for the purpose of applying preferential regulatory capital treatment for banks acting as investors in, or as sponsors of, STC short-term securitizations, typically in asset-backed commercial paper structures.
Draft UK Legislation Published to Broaden Range of Permitted Trading Venues for Islamic Finance Instruments
A draft of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) Order 2018 has been laid before Parliament. The draft Order makes amendments to the definition of "Alternative Finance Investment Bonds" in the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) Order 2001.
AFIBs, such as Sukuk, are currently not permitted to trade on multilateral trading facilities or organised trading facilities, due to the wording of the AFIB definition in the RAO, however conventional bonds can be traded on these venues. This disparity of treatment between AFIBs and conventional bonds creates an obstacle to the use of U.K. venues for the issue and trading of AFIBs and is contrary to the U.K. Government's standing commitment to provide a level playing field for Islamic finance instruments in regulation and taxation in the U.K. The draft Order amends the RAO to expand the criteria for AFIBs to qualify as a specified investment under the RAO. This will allow AFIBs to be traded on U.K. MTFs and OTFs and ensure AFIBs are treated in the same way as conventional bonds for trading purposes.
EURIBOR Administrator Starts 3-Month Testing Phase for Hybrid Methodology
The European Money Markets Institute has announced the start of the testing phase for a new hybrid methodology it proposes to introduce to determine Euribor. The testing phase will run from May 2, 2018 to July 31, 2018.
EMMI launched a consultation on the introduction of the hybrid methodology and on some related issues in March 2018. That consultation closes on May 15, 2018 and EMMI intends to publish a summary of responses in June 2018.
The testing phase will involve EMMI conducting data analysis and assessing the methodology's parameters. EMMI hopes to gain a better understanding of panel banks' overall contribution patterns and how they make submissions using Level 3 of three-level "hybrid" methodology. Based on the results, EMMI will launch a second consultation in Q3 2018.
It is intended that the new hybrid methodology will be launched by Q4 2019 at the latest, in line with the transitional period provided by the EU Benchmarks Regulation.
View the EMMI announcement.
View details of the March 2018 consultation.
ICE LIBOR Administrator Sets Out Transition Plan for New Submission Methodology
ICE Benchmark Administration, the administrator of the LIBOR benchmark, has published a report setting out how it proposes to transition panel banks to the new "Waterfall Methodology" outlined in its ICE LIBOR Output Statement, which was updated following a feedback statement in March 2017 on the evolution of the London Interbank Offered Rate. LIBOR is a widely used benchmark for short-term interest rates. It is produced for five currencies and seven tenors, resulting in the publication of 35 rates every applicable London business day.
The ICE LIBOR Output Statement sets out a single LIBOR definition and a more standardized, transaction data-driven methodology for LIBOR panel banks’ submissions. IBA’s intention in introducing the new methodology is to publish, in all market circumstances, a wholesale funding rate anchored in unsecured, wholesale funding transactions to the greatest extent possible.
Bank of England Confirms Implementation of SONIA reforms
The Bank of England has confirmed that it has implemented its reforms to the SONIA interest rate benchmark. SONIA, the Sterling Overnight Index Average Rate, which has been administered since April 2016 by the BoE, is the existing unsecured reference rate for the sterling Overnight Indexed Swap market.
The BOE announced in October 2017 that the methodology for calculating SONIA would move from being based on a market for brokered deposits (which has limited transaction volumes) to a methodology involving a volume-weighted trimmed mean. The BOE has also separately published the key features and policies for SONIA, which summarize how SONIA is calculated and administered, including the governance arrangements. The BoE intends to publish an assessment of the benchmark's compliance with the International Organization of Securities Commissions' Principles for Financial Benchmarks in Summer 2018.
View the BoE press release.
View the SONIA key features and policies document.
European Banking Authority Consults on Simple Transparent and Standardized Criteria for ABCP and non-ABCP Securitizations
The European Banking Authority has published consultations on two sets of draft guidelines under the Securitization Regulation (also known as the STS Regulation) which, along with targeted amendments to the Capital Requirements Regulation, forms part of the new EU Securitization Framework for simple, transparent and standardized securitizations from January 2018. The STS Regulation establishes two sets of criteria for STS securitizations, namely for term (i.e. non-Asset Backed Commercial Paper) securitizations and for short-term (i.e. ABCP) securitizations respectively. The EBA is mandated under the STS Regulation to develop, by October 18, 2018, (i) guidelines and recommendations interpreting the STS criteria applicable to non-ABCP securitization; and (ii) guidelines and recommendations interpreting the transaction level and programme level criteria applicable to ABCP securitization.
UK Regulator Warns CEOs of Listed Companies About Their Obligations on Irredeemable Preference Shares
The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has published a "Dear CEO" letter to the Chief Executive Officers of U.K. listed companies on capital instruments expressed to be perpetual, irredeemable or in some other way that suggests permanence. The FCA wishes to ensure that investors have access to all the information necessary for them to be able to assess properly the risks and rewards attaching to such shares. The letter lists the information that listed companies may wish to make readily accessible to all holders and potential holders of such shares, including:
- the terms and conditions of the instrument as included in the original prospectus or similar document issued at the time of the offer or admission of the shares, and details of any changes made after the issue of the shares;
- the articles of association of the issuer, particularly the articles relevant to the shares concerned; and
- a Q&A or similar publication.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Proposes Broker-Dealer Standard of Care and Guidance on Investment Advisers’ Fiduciary Standard
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission published three proposed rules with request for public comment that would seek to enhance and clarify the standards of care applicable to broker-dealers and investment advisers when dealing with retail clients. The three proposals are designed to be interlocked and complementary, and, as noted by SEC Chairman Jay Clayton in his introduction of the proposals, are aimed, in part, at better aligning regulations and obligations of broker-dealers and investment advisers with the expectations of retail investors, and preserving retail investor choice.
International Standards Body Recommendations for Secondary Corporate Bond Market Transparency and Regulatory Reporting
The International Organization of Securities Commissions has published a final report on regulatory reporting and public transparency in the secondary corporate bond markets. The report discusses the importance to robust capital markets of making information accessible to regulators and the public via regulatory reporting requirements and pre- and post-trade transparency requirements respectively. The report discusses the approach taken in various jurisdictions to impose these requirements before setting out seven recommendations for national regulators.
The recommendations update IOSCO's 2004 report, "Transparency of Corporate Bond Markets," which discussed the then-existing transparency arrangements for corporate bond markets, as well as the regulatory regimes that were in place in member jurisdictions and set out Core Measures for national regulators to consider to ensure adequate transparency and regulatory reporting arrangements. The recommendations also take into account IOSCO's 2017 report, "Examination of the Liquidity of the Secondary Corporate Bond Markets," which set out the findings of an evidence-based examination of the state of secondary corporate bond markets from 2004 until approximately 2015 and provided a detailed overview and discussion of the markets and how they had evolved since 2004.
European Securities and Markets Authority Publishes Final Technical Advice under the Prospectus Regulation
The European Securities and Markets Authority has published its final report on its technical advice to the European Commission to supplement the provisions of the Prospectus Regulation with delegated legislation. The Prospectus Regulation entered into force on July 20, 2017 and certain provisions took effect directly across the EU on July 20, 2017. It will further take effect partly on July 21, 2018 with the remainder of its provisions taking effect on July 21, 2019. The Prospectus Regulation is a major part of the European Commission's drive towards EU Capital Markets Union. It will repeal and replace the existing Prospectus Directive as well as its supplemental Regulation on the form and content of a prospectus.
ESMA was mandated by the European Commission to provide technical advice on possible delegated acts on the format and content of the prospectus, the content, format and sequence of the EU Growth Prospectus (a new type of prospectus for small and medium-sized enterprises and in certain cases non-SMEs for small issuances) and scrutiny and approval of the prospectus. ESMA consulted on its draft technical advice in three consultations launched in July 2017. ESMA has made a number of amendments to its technical advice, based on feedback received on the consultations.
Final EU Guidelines on Internalized Settlement Reporting Under the Central Securities Depositories Regulation
The European Securities and Markets Authority has published final Guidelines on Internalized Settlement Reporting under the Central Securities Depositories Regulation. The CSDR, which introduces common standards for settlements across the EU, will apply directly across the EU from January 1, 2023 to transferable securities issued after that date and, from January 1, 2025, to all transferable securities. The CSDR requires settlement internalizers to report the aggregated volume and value of all securities transactions that they settle outside of securities settlement systems to their national regulator on a quarterly basis. Settlement internalizers are firms that execute transfer orders on behalf of clients or on own account other than through a securities settlement system. National regulators must, without delay, transmit the information received from settlement internalizers to ESMA and inform ESMA of any resulting potential risk. Regulatory Technical Standards on internal settlement (Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2017/391) provide the content of internalized settlement reporting and Implementing Technical Standards (Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/393) provide the templates and procedures for reporting and transmission of the information.
The Guidelines on Internalized Settlement Reporting aim to ensure the consistent application of the requirements under CSDR and the related technical standards. The Guidelines set out the scope of data to be reported to national regulators and the entities responsible for reporting the information. The Guidelines also provide the process for submission of information by national regulators to ESMA.
The Guidelines will apply to national regulators and to settlement internalizers from the date that they are published on ESMA's website in the official languages of the EU.
View the final Guidelines on reporting internalized settlement.