Orrick's Financial Industry Week in Review

by Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
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Financial Industry Developments

CFTC Announces Measures to Enhance Protection of Customer Funds

On August 8, 2016, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced three separate enhancements relating to the protection of customer funds. The new protections address the exemption of certain Federal Reserve Banks from liability under the Commodity Exchange Act, as well as the use of money market funds by derivatives clearing organizations and futures commission merchants. Press Release.

CFTC Announces Actions Addressing Application of the Dodd-Frank Act to Cross-Border Transactions

On August 4, 2016, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced two separate actions relating to the application of the Dodd-Frank Act to cross-border transactions. The CFTC issued a Final Response to District Court Remand Order in Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, et al. v. United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission that explains the CFTC's approach to application of swaps regulations internationally. The CFTC's Divisions of Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight (DSIO), Clearing and Risk, and Market Oversight (Divisions) also issued a no-action letter that extends relief to swap dealers registered with the CFTC from certain transaction-level requirements under the Commodity Exchange Act. Press Release.

CFPB Finalizes New Foreclosure Protections

On August 4, 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued updated servicing rules to expand foreclosure protections for homeowners and struggling borrowers. The new measures include expanding consumer protections to surviving family members, clarifying borrower protections in servicing transfers, providing periodic statements to borrowers in bankruptcy, and requiring servicers to provide certain foreclosure protections more than once over the life of the loan, among other protections. The majority of the provisions of the final rule will become effective 12 months after publication in the Federal Register. Press Release. Final Rule.

Rating Agency Developments

On August 10, 2016, KBRA published its rating methodology for global closed-end fund securities issuances. Report.

On August 10, 2016, KBRA published its rating methodology for global investment funds. Report.

On August 10, 2016, KBRA published its rating methodology for enhanced equipment trust certificates and secured aircraft debt. Report.

On August 10, 2016, KBRA published its rating methodology for global passenger airlines. Report.

On August 9, 2016, Fitch updated its rating criteria for sports facilities, leagues and franchises. Press Release.

On August 8, 2016, S&P published its methodology for rating corporate cash flow and synthetic collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). Report.

On August 8, 2016, S&P published its methodology for rating above the sovereign in structured finance transactions. Report.

On August 4, 2016, Fitch published its rating criteria for SHFA mortgage insurance or guarantee funded programs. Press Release.

On August 4, 2016, Fitch updated its rating criteria for commercial mortgage-backed securities and loans in EMEA. Press Release.

Puerto Rico Developments

The Impact of PROMESA on Creditors

On June 30, 2016, the United States Senate passed the "Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act" ("PROMESA") and it was quickly signed into law by President Obama.   PROMESA enables the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and its public corporations and other instrumentalities in financial distress to restructure their debt.  The goal of PROMESA is to "bring solvency to Puerto Rico, build a foundation for future growth and ensure the island regains access to capital markets". PROMESA, though, is not limited to restructuring and enforcement of debt obligations or securities.  If you lent money or extended other forms of credit, or provided goods or services, to Puerto Rico or any of its instrumentalities, PROMESA may affect you.  Read more.

RMBS and Other Securities Litigation

New York Intermediate Appellate Court Holds that Accrual Provision Does Not Save RMBS Trustee's Time-Barred Putback Claim

On August 11, 2016, the First Department of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York affirmed dismissal of an action brought by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as RMBS Trustee, against Quicken Loans, Inc.  Following the New York Court of Appeals decision in the closely-followed case of ACE Securities Corp., Home Equity Loan Trust, Series 2006-SL2 v. DB Structured Products, Inc. (covered here) – which held that a breach of contract claim in an RMBS putback action accrues on the date the representations and warranties are made – the First Department concluded Deutsche Bank's action was time-barred, notwithstanding the presence of an accrual provision in the transaction documents that might have otherwise delayed the accrual of putback claims indefinitely.  The decision holds that such accrual provisions are unenforceable attempts to extend the statute of limitations. Order.

New York Appellate Court Allows Fraud Claim to Proceed Against Morgan Stanley

On August 11, 2016, the First Department of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York affirmed a trial court ruling that investor-plaintiff IKB International to proceed with claims that RMBS sponsor and underwriter Morgan Stanley knowingly misrepresented loans' credit quality and characteristics.  The Court affirmed a ruling that justifiable reliance was adequately pleaded as the complaint contained allegations that (i) plaintiffs hired investment advisors to analyze the offering documents for the 18 RMBS deals at issue; and (ii) plaintiffs lacked the access to (and the ability to demand) loan files prior to purchase. 

Additionally, the Court agreed that the plaintiffs adequately pleaded the fraud element of scienter by alleging that Morgan Stanly learned about the loans' defects during the course of its own due diligence reviews, and in its role as underwriter. Order.

New York Appellate Court Reverse Lower Court, Allows RMBS Action to Proceed Against Morgan Stanley

On August 11, 2016, the First Department of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York reversed the lower court, allowing RMBS Trustee U.S. Bank to proceed with claims against Morgan Stanley in connection with alleged losses of $140 million resulting from the sale of allegedly defective loans.  Following its own ruling from last year (covered here), the First Department again concluded that the alleged failure to notify securitization counterparties of breaches of representations and warranties constitutes a viable cause of action independent from claims arising from the alleged breaches themselves.  The First Department also reversed dismissal of the plaintiff's gross negligence claims noting that – notwithstanding language in the governing contract's sole remedy provision – the law does not permit a party to insulate itself from paying for damages arising from its grossly negligent conduct. Order.

WMC Settles $1 Billion RMBS Suit During Pendency Of Appeal

On August 9, 2016, RMBS trustee Deutsche Bank National Trust Company and WMC Mortgage, LLC, filed a joint motion to stay an appeal pending in the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  The parties requested the stay to allow them time to finalize the settlement of a lawsuit alleging that WMC misrepresented the quality of loans it sold in a $1 billion 2006 RMBS offering.  The trial court had previously dismissed the lawsuit in 2015 (covered here) as time-barred under New York's six-year statute of limitations. Joint Motion.

European Financial Industry Developments

European Commission Implementing Regulation Establishing a List of Critical Benchmarks Used in Financial Markets under Benchmarks Regulation in OJ

On August 12, 2016, the European Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/1368 establishing a list of critical benchmarks used in financial markets pursuant to the Regulation on indices used as benchmarks in financial instruments and financial contracts or to measure the performance of investment funds (2016/1011/EU) (Benchmarks Regulation), was published in the Official Journal of the EU (OJ).

The Regulation highlights that benchmarks play an important role in the determination of the price of many financial instruments and financial contracts and of the measurement of performance for many investment funds. In order to fulfil their economic role, benchmarks need to be representative of the underlying market or economic reality they reflect. Should a benchmark no longer be representative of an underlying market, such as interbank offered rates, there is a risk of negative effects on, inter alia, market integrity, the financing of households (loans and mortgages) and businesses in the Union.

The Implementing Regulation, which specifies the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (EURIBOR) as a critical benchmark, enters into force on the day following its publication in the OJ (that is, August 13, 2016). It will apply from January 1, 2018.

Addendum to ECB Guide on Harmonizing Options and Discretions Available in Union Law

On August 10, 2016, the ECB published an addendum to its guide on options and discretions (O&Ds) available in Union law.

The addendum complements the guide and ECB Regulation that were published in March 2016. It lays down the ECB's approach to the exercise of eight O&Ds provided for in the Capital Requirements Regulation (Regulation 575/2013) (CRR) and the CRD IV Directive (2013/36/EU). The objective is to provide coherence, effectiveness and transparency regarding the supervisory policy that will be applied in the supervisory assessment of applications from significant supervised entities within the scope of the single supervisory mechanism (SSM).

A press release also published on August 10, highlights that the publication of the addendum signals the end of the consultation process. A consolidated version of the guide, including the addendum and the approach for the recognition of institutional protection schemes, is to be published on the ECB's website later in 2016.

European Commission Adopts Implementing Regulation on Information for Calculation of Technical Provisions and Basic Own Funds for Q3 2016 Reporting under Solvency II

On August 8, 2016, the European Commission adopted an Implementing Regulation laying down information for the calculation of technical provisions and basic own funds for reporting with reference dates from June 30 until September 29, 2016 (that is, the third quarter of 2016) in accordance with the Solvency II Directive (2009/138/EC).

In the Regulation, technical information on relevant risk-free interest rate term structures, fundamental spreads for the calculation of the matching adjustment and volatility adjustments are formulated for every reference date, in order to guarantee uniform conditions for the calculation of technical provisions and basic own funds by insurance and reinsurance undertakings for the purposes of Solvency II.

The technical information to be used by insurance and reinsurance undertakings when calculating technical provisions and basic own funds for reporting with reference dates from June 30 until September 29, 2016 are detailed in the annexes to the Implementing Regulation, as follows:

  • Annex 1: the relevant risk-free rate term structures
  • Annex 2: the fundamental spreads for the calculation of the matching adjustment
  • Annex 3: the volatility adjustments for each relevant national market

The Regulation will enter into force the day after it has been published in the Official Journal of the EU (OJ). It will apply from June 30, 2016.

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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