Orrick's Financial Industry Week In Review

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Financial Industry Developments

The CFPB Publishes Final Rule for Prepaid Accounts

On October 5, 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (the "CFPB") finalized comprehensive consumer protections for prepaid account users that require, among other things, financial institutions to limit consumer losses when funds are stolen or cards are lost. The new rule also requires financial institutions to allow consumers free, easy access to account information and finalizes new "Know Before You Owe" disclosures to give consumers clear information about fees and other key details regarding prepaid accounts. Press Release. Final Rule.

The OCC Publishes Guidance Concerning Foreign Correspondent Banking Accounts

On October 5, 2016, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (the "OCC") issued risk management guidance that addresses periodic reevaluations of risks associated with foreign correspondent banking accounts. The guidance includes the OCC's best practices for banks to consider when conducting reevaluations and making account termination and retention decisions. Press Release.

The OCC Proposes Rule to Address Concerns Relating to Exercise of Default Rights Under Qualified Financial Contracts

On October 3, 2016, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency proposed a rule to enhance the resilience of federally chartered and licensed financial institutions. The proposed rule addresses concerns relating to the exercise of default rights under certain financial contracts that could interfere with the orderly resolution of systemically important financial firms. The rule requires, among other things, covered banks to ensure that covered qualified financial contracts (i) limit the exercise of default rights based on the insolvency of an affiliate of a covered bank and (ii) contain contractual stay-and-transfer provisions analogous to the statutory stay-and-transfer provision set forth under title II of the Dodd-Frank Act and the Federal Deposit Insurance Act. Comments on the proposed rule are due on October 18, 2016. Press Release.

FINRA and SEC Announce Tick Size Pilot Program

On October 3, 2016, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ("FINRA") and the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC")'s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy issued an Investor Alert announcing a new National Market System (NMS) Plan that will implement a Tick Size Pilot Program (the "Pilot") that will widen the minimum quoting and trading increment – sometimes called the "tick size" – for some small capitalization stocks. The goal of the Pilot is to study the effect of tick size on liquidity and trading of small capitalization stocks.

The Pilot has been implemented pursuant to the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act which, among other things, directed the SEC to conduct a study and report to Congress on how decimalization affected the number of initial public offerings, and the liquidity and trading of securities of smaller capitalization companies.

Under the Pilot, the tick size will be widened from a penny ($0.01) to a nickel ($0.05) for specified securities listed on national securities exchanges ("Pilot Securities"). For some Pilot Securities, only quoting will need to occur in $0.05 increments, while for others, both quoting and trading generally will need to occur in increments of a nickel.

The Pilot will include a specified subset of the exchange-listed stocks of companies that have $3 billion or less in market capitalization, an average daily trading volume of one million shares or less and a volume-weighted average price of at least $2.00 for every trading day. There will be a control group of approximately 1,400 securities and three test groups, each with approximately 400 securities selected by a stratified sampling. 

The Plot will run for a two-year period that will commence on October 3, 2016.

The data collected from the Pilot will be used by the SEC, national securities exchanges and FINRA to assess whether wider tick sizes enhance the market quality of these stocks for the benefit of issuers and investors—such as less volatility and increased liquidity.

Resources:

The OCC Publishes Final Guidelines on Recovery Planning

On September 29, 2016, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (the "OCC") published final guidelines establishing enforceable standards for recovery planning. The final guidelines generally apply to banks with average total consolidated assets of $50 billion or more ("covered banks"). If a covered bank fails to meet a guideline, the OCC may require such bank to submit a plan specifying steps the bank would take to comply with the guideline. If, after being notified that it is in violation of a guideline, a covered bank fails to submit an acceptable compliance plan or fails to materially comply with a plan approved by the OCC, the OCC may issue an order enforceable under section 8 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act. Press Release. Final Guidelines.

 

Rating Agency Developments

On October 4, 2016, Moody's published its approach to rating revenue bonds of U.S. municipal Joint Action Agencies (JAA). Report.

On October 3, 2016, DBRS published derivative criteria for European structured finance transactions. Report.

On October 3, 2016, Moody's published its approach to assessing credit risk for rated issuers in the business and consumer service industry. Report.

On October 3, 2016, Moody's published its approach to rating credit tenant lease and comparable lease financings. Report.

On October 3, 2016, Moody's published its rating methodology for companies in the global integrated oil and gas industry. Report.

On September 30, 2016, Moody's published methodology for rating debt issuance under certified capital company, new markets tax credit and similar programs. Report.

On September 29, 2016, Fitch published its methodology for assigning new and monitoring existing international ratings to aircraft enhanced equipment trust certificates (EETCs). Report.

 

European Financial Industry Developments

ECB Amends Eligibility Criteria for Unsecured Bank Bonds

On October 5, 2016, the European Central Bank ("ECB") stated that it will be making changes to its collateral framework by revising the collateral eligibility criteria and risk control measures in relation to senior unsecured debt instruments issued by credit institutions or investment firms (unsecured bank bonds or UBBs).

Under the current rules, UBBs will, except for these new changes, become ineligible on January 1, 2017. The ECB's revisions to its collateral framework are aimed at temporarily maintaining the eligibility of UBBs (including the eligibility of statutorily subordinated UBBs that are not also contractually subordinated), beyond January 1, 2017.

Furthermore, UBBs will also be subject to additional risk control measures to remain eligible. The ECB has decided to reduce, as of January 1, 2017, the usage limit for uncovered bank bonds from 5% to 2.5%. The reduction will not apply where:

  • the value of such assets is equal to or less than €50 million (net of any applicable haircut); or
  • such assets are guaranteed (by a public sector entity that has the right to levy taxes) by way of a guarantee that complies with the provisions of Article 114 of the ECB Guideline on the implementation of the Eurosystem monetary policy framework.

The changes are expected to come into effect from January 1, 2017.

European Commission Adopts Delegated Regulation on RTS on Risk Mitigation Techniques for Uncleared OTC Derivative Contracts under EMIR

On October 4, 2016, the European Commission adopted a Delegated Regulation supplementing EMIR (the Regulation on OTC derivatives, CCPs and trade repositories) (Regulation 648/2012) with regulatory technical standards ("RTS") on risk mitigation techniques for uncleared OTC derivative contracts, together with related Annexes (C(2016) 6329 final).

The Delegate Regulation sets out the levels and types of collateral that OTC derivatives counterparties must exchange bilaterally if the transaction is not cleared through a central counterparty ("CCP"). In the event that one counterparty to the transaction defaults, the margin collected will protect the non-defaulting counterparty against resulting losses.

The Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) submitted the final draft RTS to the Commission in March 2016. In July 2016, the Commission informed the European Banking Authority that it intended to endorse the draft RTS with some amendments, including in relation to the concentration limits for pension scheme arrangements and the timeline for.

The Council of the EU and the European Parliament will now consider the Delegated Regulation. If neither of them objects to it, the Delegated Regulation will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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