The Pfandbrief Roundtable 2012


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Regulation, transparency and liquidity were among the subjects of debate when The Covered Bond Report and Association of German Pfandbrief Banks (vdp) brought together leading covered bond market participants together in Frankfurt.

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The Pfandbrief Roundtable 2012

  1. 1. THE PFANDBRIEF ROUNDTABLE 2012 The Pfandbrief Roundtable 2012 German covered bond issuers have been shielded from the worst of the sovereign debt crisis, but nevertheless share the several challenges faced by the broader asset class. In this roundtable sponsored by the Association of GermanPfandbrief Banks (vdp), leading market participants gathered in Frankfurt in mid-January to discuss how the industry is tackling issues such as transparency and liquidity, and how they see the Pfandbrief faring in the face of developments in collateral quality and regulation.Neil Day, The Covered Bond Re- be higher if market conditions in general Day: What can we expect from Helaba?port: What are expectations for Pfand- improve over the year. Martin Gipp, Helaba: We have beenbrief issuance this year? active in the public Pfandbrief marketJens Tolckmitt, vdp: The results of our Day: Aareal issued in the second week since 2010 with benchmark issues. Beforeannual survey of vdp members showed of January. Tammo, were you expecting that we more or less focused on the privatethat they plan to issue around Eu74bn of to come to the market as early as that? placement market.Pfandbriefe. Most of this, about Eu43bn, Tammo Diemer, Aareal: It’s the first Our funding needs are usually in thewill likely be mortgage Pfandbriefe, which time Aareal has actually opened the Pfand- area of Eu10bn-Eu13bn. Last year we is-is the continuation of a trend that we have brief market. Our plans were to come pretty sued about Eu12bn overall and the fore-seen for the last few years, with mortgage early in the year and it turned out to be the cast for this year is around Eu13bn, andPfandbriefe being the dominant part of right decision to come with a quality prod- of that we expect to do about Eu7bn inoverall Pfandbrief issuance. Eu29bn have uct with a medium term maturity, as we Pfandbrief issuance. We will be active onbeen announced as public Pfandbriefe had a very strong order book. We priced a both sides, mortgage Pfandbriefe as welland Eu2bn as ship Pfandbriefe. Eu500m transaction and had Eu900m of as public sector Pfandbriefe. As we have That Eu74bn is less than last year, honest orders, with a granular book of more pretty large cover pools and collateralwhen we expected Eu90bn. But due to than 80 different accounts. We had a strong available, this amount of issuance shouldthe extremely difficult market conditions, demand from Germany and central banks. be feasible.we ended up with only Eu70bn in 2011. We will have a pretty normal year regard- In what form that will be done dependsBased on that and the still adverse mar- ing Pfandbrief issuance, meaning Eu1.5bn- very much on market conditions. Marketsket situation in the government sector this Eu2bn of mortgage Pfandbriefe, and we will have been very volatile. We are always a veryhigher estimate is quite a positive signal be visible with two or three Eu500m trans- price conscious house, so we are choosingfor the Pfandbrief market and it may even actions, including the one we just issued. the economically most sensible way for us.30 The Covered Bond Report Jan/Feb 2012
  2. 2. THE PFANDBRIEF ROUNDTABLE 2012 We have maturing Jumbo Pfandbriefe Participants: of roughly Eu42bn this year and I would expect, based on the numbers that have been cited, perhaps Eu20bn in jumbos to be a sensible estimate. One more thing: you have mentioned Ralf Burmeister, mortgage, public and ship Pfandbrief — senior portfolio perhaps we will next see aircraft Pfand- manager, DB briefe. I’m not sure if that will be a bench- Advisors mark, but we will have a greater diversity of products. Ralf Burmeister, DB Advisors: It’s a Robin little bit of a pain from the investor side Buschmann, when issuers are price sensitive. It is abso- senior portfolio lutely fair, but when it comes to maturity, manager, DB Advisors we would love to buy longer dated paper, 10-15 years, but there is not too much is- suance, especially in benchmarks: you can use private placements. The private place- ments are obviously targeted at a certain investor base — which is fine, it gives you Tammo Diemer, a stable funding base and we love stable head of treasury, issuers, no doubt about that — but we Aareal Bank tend to have some difficulties, especially at the long end of the curve, in finding good German quality. So when you talk about Eu75bn or so, it sounds impressive, but breaking it down to new issuance in jumbos or benchmarks, Martin Gipp, head of funding, it’s considerably less. Helaba Tolckmitt: It is. I would agree with Jörg’sBut for a targeted amount of Eu7bn this estimate that Jumbo issuance will beyear, it’s fair to assume that we will be in the around Eu20bn — although that is notbenchmark segment this year again at least based on our survey. It really is a difficult Jörg Homey,once or twice, maybe even three times de- number to predict. It depends a lot on the head of coveredpending on market conditions. overall market conditions in the capital bond research, markets. If they are good, there will be a DZ BankJörg Homey, DZ Bank: Forecasts are larger number of Jumbos. If it is difficult,particularly difficult this year for several it’s maybe less.reasons. One is that banks are deleverag- If you look at last year, for example,ing, which is obviously impacting their re- by mid-year we had almost reached our Jens Tolckmitt,financing needs. Then, secondly, universal estimate of Eu22bn and with conditions chief executive,banks in particular can refinance them- so difficult in the second half of 2011 we Association ofselves via deposits. And ECB-supplied sup- ended up with Eu25bn. German Pfand- brief Banks (vdp)port via the three year refinancing tenderis available if banks need liquidity and it is, Day: What are expectations for the per-let’s say, not economically feasible to refi- formance of Pfandbriefe?nance via the markets due to high spreads. Robin Buschmann, DB Advisors: WeSo for those reasons it’s very difficult to always look at risk-return profiles, for anypredict a concrete number, so it could be bond, and in regard to Pfandbriefe, you Neil Day, managing editor,anything between, if you are looking at definitely have a lower risk profile, but you The Coveredbenchmarks, Eu100bn-Eu200bn this year also get a much lower return. The market Bond Reportfor covered bonds overall. currently focuses on the risk component Jan/Feb 2012 The Covered Bond Report 31
  3. 3. THE PFANDBRIEF ROUNDTABLE 2012 respect support from the ECB could be extremely helpful. Tolckmitt: I would fully agree with this no- tion that it is a very important tool for the overall covered bond market. I would also agree with the fact that there are other coun- tries and other covered bond jurisdictions that might need it more than the Pfandbrief, much more than the Pfandbrief. But I think if you look at the aims that the ECB announced for the first purchase programme, they were not only to get the covered bond market going again, but to Tolckmitt: “Higher estimate is quite a positive signal use the covered bond market as an initial for the Pfandbrief market” market for getting the overall funding markets going again, and in the first roundrather than the return component. From question is whether the Pfandbrief in it worked quite well.this perspective — and from our clients’ particular is in need of such additional You can see certain limited spread re-perspective, too, as they are quite risk support. Back in early 2009, right before actions to the second covered bond pur-averse at the moment — Pfandbriefe are the first programme, we had triple-digit chase programme in the covered bondattractive investments. Compared with spreads for Pfandbriefe, but even then market, too. It has not spread, as far as Ithe overall covered bond market Pfand- banks could issue. It is not the case for see it, to other markets, but I think there isbriefe don’t look appealing just looking some peripheral countries right now even one very important difference that makesat the return figures. If you consider both if the ECB can take a part of their issue. it more difficult to make this programmecomponents, risk and return figure, they So, yes, it’s nice to have and of course as successful as the first one: it’s a totallyare definitely one investment that you it is their mandate to ensure financial different macroeconomic environment.have to have in your portfolio. stability, but from a pure, let’s say, micro perspective, they are crowding out us lit- Homey: I totally agree. The covered bondBurmeister: The other thing is tradabil- tle covered bond investors, being a forced purchase programme most certainly helpsity. Not necessarily liquidity, but we can be buyer with almost Eu3.5bn a month to support new issues over the finishingsure to get rid of a Pfandbrief in order to spend. This is something, at least for the line. However, the problem is the sover-create liquidity for funds, at least at bid/ Pfandbrief part, which we do not really eign debt crisis, and that also showed inoffer levels which are OK and don’t cause like to see, to be frank — although I un- the numbers from the first covered bondus too much pain. Obviously the further derstand the need for the ECB to go in purchase programme: when the sovereignsouth you turn in the covered bond mar- and do a second round of covered bond crisis kicked in with the downgrades of theket, the more difficulty you may have in buying for the reason of financial stability. sovereigns in southern parts of Europe,creating liquidity and in selling paper. spreads went out again. I think it wouldEspecially at the peak of the crisis. And Gipp: It could also be seen as a catalyst for be too much to ask for the ECB to solvethat’s another reason why you cannot be stabilisation. What we have seen is a great the problems via a covered bond purchaseun-invested in Pfandbriefe in a normal, period of stress not only in the primary programme. The problems are elsewhere.diversified covered bond mandate. market, but also in the secondary market. I would agree with you to a certain extent Day: How has the sovereign debt crisisDay: What impact is CBPP2 having? that in the primary market the Pfandbrief affected public sector Pfandbriefe?Diemer: The ECB covered bond pro- in general is not in any great need of this Buschmann: The attitude of investorsgramme is a very sensible tool to provide support. In the secondary market, though, has definitely changed. Investors want tofinancial market stability. Pfandbriefe and I think the ECB could actually play a very look through the investment vehicle andcovered bonds are key refinancing instru- important role in bringing it back to life, want to know if it is a mortgage or publicments for banks. The last covered bond because that has been very subdued lately. sector covered bond and what exactly thepurchase programme was very successful, No investor, bank, whatever was able to distribution of countries held in the publicalso from the point of view of the central really reinvigorate the secondary market. sector cover pool looks like. The preferencebank, and I predict that the second pro- But in the end, it all depends a little bit for mortgage covered bonds has increasedgramme is going to be a similar success. on the trust that the market needs to have throughout the last year. A mortgage cov- in the covered bond asset class overall, not ered bond is a diversifiying instrument inBurmeister: It’s nice to have, but the so much the Pfandbrief itself. And in that your portfolio, compared with a public sec-32 The Covered Bond Report Jan/Feb 2012
  4. 4. THE PFANDBRIEF ROUNDTABLE 2012tor covered bond where you have public backed by such cover pools. In light of that,exposure in the cover pool. the Pfandbrief has held up reasonably well One point related to the purchase pro- so far. This is, I believe, based on the factgramme is that in 2009, when spreads had that overall, as Jörg said, 80% on aggregatebeen elevated due to a general banking of the cover assets are German public sec-crisis, there was little differentiation be- tor exposure, which certainly helps.tween affected countries. Now we are inthe middle of a sovereign crisis, which Homey: Seven or so German Pfandbriefemakes it difficult for the ECB to support have been downgraded recently and in theone particular asset class, like covered majority of cases this was due to the de-bonds. When managers decide on allo- terioration of the issuer rating — ratingcations, the only important variable that agencies keep on saying it’s not about thethey currently should look at is country quality of the cover pool. However, in aallocation. Whether you have a covered few cases — and that is also new — they Burmeister: “How viable is thebond or a sovereign bond is currently not point out that indeed the collateral qual- business model of the public sectorso important due to the high correlations ity or overcollateralisation level is not suf- financing?”between the asset classes. Much more im- ficient to maintain the target rating. Soportant is how much Spain, Portugal, Italy from that perspective the issuer rating, assets. But on the other hand, if an issueror Ireland you have in your portfolio. This sovereign rating and covered bond rating increases his Spanish or Italian debt —is the decisive level of allocation right now are all intertwined. even at these levels, with a 6%-7% yield —— it’s the country weighting. from 2% to 4% of the overall cover pool, Day: Does Helaba have many foreign the issuer will get beaten up, and in theDay: Have we seen issuers doing any- assets in its public sector cover pool? end would lose more in terms of its fund-thing in response to investors’ concerns? Gipp: No, we only have a small portion ing spread, because its whole curve mightHomey: From looking at Section 28 data of foreign assets in our public sector cover be affected, than it would gain on the par-on the vdp’s webpage, it seems that issu- pool and I’m grateful for that, because that ticular investment in Spanish, Italian orers are removing Greece from cover pools. subject has been an ongoing issue in our whatsoever paper.Obviously they are aware that investors talks with investors in the last two years. We have to ask critically how viable isare looking at the exposure to peripheral We have only 7% non-German exposure, that business model going forward. If youcountries. But if you look at public sector which is very small indeed, and that is think about the large covered bond issu-Pfandbriefe, on average 80% of the assets something that we highlight whenever we ers that faced individual crises — Depfaare claims against German entities, so I go out to investors. That’s also a key point and DexMA come immediately to mindthink it’s fair to say that most of the cover when we talk later on about transparency: — they had large public sector exposures.pools are genuine German risk, even if it is important that you really give inves-some have a larger amount of internation- tors a clear indication of where you are Tolckmitt: That’s without doubt going toal exposure. exposed to. We don’t have any rebalanc- be one of the big issues moving beyond However, the rating agencies have ing needs because the cover pool is OK the crisis. And it has been a developmentreacted. First of all, the downgrades of and definitely above average, but I can that has not only started in the crisis — itsovereigns translate into higher credit certainly understand any investor who is started in 2000. If you look at issuance orrisks which they consider in their mod- having a much more thorough look at the outstandings of public sector Pfandbriefeelling. Fitch, for example, downgraded composition of cover pools than they have since 2000, they have been consolidatingsome public sector Pfandbriefe because of in the past. and they continue to consolidate. One ofthat, and there are other examples outside the reasons that they continue to do soGermany where the rating agencies have Burmeister: Frankly, this raises a ques- now is the crisis, but it is also upcomingpointed out that the deteriorating credit tion resulting from the whole sovereign regulation.quality of sovereigns has had an impact crisis: how viable is the business model We have seen difficulties well beforeon the quality of cover pools. of the public sector financing? If you the crisis in a certain area of public sec- have 80% German exposure and if you tor business, which can be called capi-Tolckmitt: If you have an environment look at the spreads of Bunds, KfW and tal market based public sector businesswhere sovereigns are downgraded one Bundesländer, it cannot be a viable busi- where you basically buy bonds in theby one and some of them are included in ness model to refinance that kind of debt capital markets and then refinance themcover pools, anything else would be a little through a public sector Pfandbrief, be- via Pfandbriefe. As a consequence, webit astonishing. From some point onwards, cause that would be simply by playing the have for several years now been return-it is certain to have an effect on the rating of curve. So you need to have those higher ing to smaller scale genuine public sec-Pfandbriefe or other covered bonds that are yielding assets, which are basically foreign tor lending business. That is the original Jan/Feb 2012 The Covered Bond Report 33
  5. 5. THE PFANDBRIEF ROUNDTABLE 2012idea behind the public sector Pfandbrief: put together this data so that it is mean-to bundle the funding needs of smaller ingful and so that investors have a clearsized public entities and give them in- interpretation of capital market access through is-suing Pfandbriefe and bundling them in Buschmann: The problem is rather withthe cover pool. We are gradually return- other jurisdictions that do not have theing towards this business model, which quality and quantity of data that is pro-means smaller sizes, which means we will vided under the German Pfandbrief leg-not see the big Jumbo issues anymore that islation.we saw before the crisis. But it’s a healthy If an investor doesn’t have access to es-development and that is important. sential information, he tends to assume the I just wanted to add one important point worst case scenario because he thinks theregarding the composition of cover pools, issuer might hide something. This is actu-especially public sector cover pools: it’s not ally the worst outcome for issuers. Hence,so long ago that rating agencies asked banks the transparency initiative is not only athat had an 80% or 85% share of Germany in good thing for investors but also for issuers. Gipp: “We are more and moretheir cover pool to diversify internationally. selling the entire credit story”I am happy that they have reconsidered this Diemer: Yes, and what Martin said isposition, but the international exposure was Day: Are you supportive of the CBIC that transparency is not only limited toa development that was to a certain extent transparency standards initiative? the cover pool, but to the whole balancedriven by the same rating agencies that are Burmeister: Yes, sure. A colleague of sheet. Aareal’s mortgage pool is highly di-now criticising the share of foreign assets in ours has been working on that, too. versified from a geographic point of view:the same cover pools. The good thing about this initiative is we have 20 different countries within our that for the first time you have something pool. This reflects our business model:Day: What is the composition of Hela- on a European level that can make things we have been doing international com-ba’s pool? more comparable. You have lots of differ- mercial real estate lending for the last 20Gipp: It is granular, and very much re- ent data sources — and obviously your years, and every investor is well aware thatgionally focused in Hessen and Thuringia company is offering a service as well — investing in Aareal paper also means en-— our home turf. And yes, a couple of you have the ECBC Factbook, etc. But the gaging with this international commercialyears ago the rating agencies were point- real problem kicks in if you try to com- real estate lending portfolio. And there-ing their fingers at this domestic exposure pare, say, a Spanish pool with a German fore transparency plays an important roleand arguing that we have a high level of one. Notwithstanding the time limits and for our investors.concentration risk there. Now this “con- frequency of data you get, sometimes youcentration” is proving extremely valuable. have different definitions of what is com- Burmeister: Just to clarify: it’s a Euro- Overall, what Jens said is very impor- mercial, what is residential mortgages, pean topic and obviously Germany’s Sec-tant. The business model is what is driving and so forth and so on. tion 28 has always been good and up tothe strength of the product you can actu- That’s basically the reason why we ab- date. We have some other issuers, more inally sell. We are not only selling covered solutely like this initiative, because you the Nordic region, which also have decentbonds; we are more and more selling the have questions regarding the issuer and transparency, and also some UK issuers,entire credit story, the business model of the bank, and about the cover pool. just to mention a few. But in most casesthe bank, either through a Pfandbrief or I could foresee issuers having to pay up it’s not a common standard and it’s nota senior unsecured issue or whatever that in terms of spread if they don’t follow such enforced by law. This is why we absolutelymight be. But ultimately the investor has industry standards. This is really some- welcome this look at the entire composition of your thing at the heart of what we do, which webalance sheet. When you have a funding as investors can really look at and say: OK, Tolckmitt: Providing transparency cre-composition like us, where the Pfandbrief are they delivering? What do they deliver? ates a win-win situation. We as Pfand-makes up less than 25% of our overall me- With what frequency? And do we like what brief issuers have been committed todium and long term funding, it provides a we see in the data we are getting? transparency since 2005 when we firstgood indication that we have to do other enacted Section 28 of our law. Our aimprofitable business in order to be able to Diemer: The German Pfandbrief legisla- was to make investors less reliant on rat-do 75% of our funding elsewhere, and this tion is leading from a European perspec- ing agencies, and if you want to do that,composition and business model has to be tive when it comes to transparency. And you have to provide transparency. Goingmade clear to investors. The cover pool in at Aareal, we welcome further improve- back to the figures we discussed previ-itself gives you a lot of indications, but it’s ments. However, it is important that it is ously: only if investors know that on aver-not the full picture. unambiguously stated how issuers should age 80% of public sector cover pools are34 The Covered Bond Report Jan/Feb 2012
  6. 6. THE PFANDBRIEF ROUNDTABLE 2012German public sector exposure, and onlyif they can look at how German issuershave reduced their PIIGS exposure overtime, only then will they feel comfortablewith the product, and therefore may notblindly follow rating agencies’ advice. Thatis very important and that is why we alsoappreciate greatly the initiative taken bythe CBIC on a European level. What is very important, though — andI think the CBIC would also acknowledgethis — is that you have to differentiate withregard to the level and detail of transparen-cy between different investor bases. Highlysophisticated international investors whoare not necessarily as familiar with the Buschmann: “The transparency initiative is not onlyPfandbrief as a traditional German investor a good thing for investors but also for issuers”would ask for more cover pool data than atypical Pfandbrief investor. We review our spend on the research capacity necessary to LTVs, as a property lender I can give youtransparency requirements regularly and look at all the pool data. five different LTV definitions right now.our principle in approaching this is to ask Then if you look at the UK, it’s the cen-every investor that we meet — and we meet tral bank demanding loan by loan data for Tolckmitt: We are already working ona lot of investors — what they would like eligibility. I’m not predicting that we will the next amendment of our law, which weto add to our Section 28, and then out of ultimately get that requirement for the hope will pass in 2013, and the majorityall the answers we distil what a majority of whole covered bond market — indeed it’s of the issues that you just mentioned arethe investors say and we try to put that in a bit of a distraction because it is moving on our agenda for inclusion in Section 28.our legal framework. It is especially small away from the credit and the issuer itself Again, it shows that increasing transpar-and mid-sized investors for whom Section — but it shows at least the direction we ency on a step by step basis and in discus-28 is made, because they have to rely on a are going in and even the CBIC initiative sions with investors — without a big banglegal framework. And it is very often those is probably not the end of the road. as suggested by the UK government or theinvestors from which you get the answer CBIC — is quite a promising way to do it.that they don’t necessarily need or want Homey: Transparency is one thing; themore information, but perhaps more con- other thing is supervision, and the strict Buschmann: We definitely need thissistent or comparable information, or more German supervision through BaFin and transparency, not only in the coveredtimely information. And so you really have through the cover pool monitor. This adds bond market, in the Pfandbrief market;a broad range of investors with different comfort, at least from my perspective. we need it in the whole banking industry.needs, and you have to answer all their But if you are looking at possible im- Just looking back at what happened in theneeds, not only those of investors seeking provements, investors are very interested past, you realise that for years there haveloan by loan information on the cover pool. in LTV distribution data, and also the been risks that were not adequately pricedThe CBIC is representing big international seasoning of the loans. It should be very in the market because of a lack of infor-investors, and they clearly have the tools straightforward to provide this informa- mation and a lack of transparency. Whatnecessary to analyse this and they want to tion, and also the maturity of assets — investors are doing right now is asking forknow it, but it is not necessarily the case for both the average by the time to maturity more information in order to be able toeach and every investor. and the time to reset — and this also by build up confidence again, to regain the interest rate type — fixed or floating rate. trust that they have lost during the crisis.Burmeister: That is a strength of the cov- If you could shed a little bit more light on If one wants to re-establish functioningered bond market: you have these highly that, I would be delighted. markets, one needs to regain this trust.sophisticated international investors and Therefore we need this transparency.then a second and third tier of investors. Diemer: The interpretation of these con-But there is a kind of free riding taking cepts needs to be the same for each and Day: The ECBC’s labelling initiativeplace on the investor side with smaller in- every issuer and there needs to be some — will it enter into investors’ decision-vestors saying that if the larger players are sort of quality management by the vdp making?subscribing to new issues and are fine with for German banks and the ECBC for Eu- Burmeister: No, because we will alwaysthe name, then they can take Eu1m, Eu2m, ropean issuers to ensure that the data is make up our own mind what is a coveredEu5m or whatever, too. They don’t want to collected in a similar way. With regard to bond and what is a covered bond we would Jan/Feb 2012 The Covered Bond Report 35
  7. 7. THE PFANDBRIEF ROUNDTABLE 2012 a consequence the attractiveness of the product to a certain extent rests on regula- tory implications. In all the evolving regulatory frame- works — Basel, Solvency, bail-in, UCITS — we have a preferential treatment for covered bonds. And there are not many preferential treatments in these regulatory initiatives at all. It is clear to me that this will bring covered bonds under the scruti- ny of regulators over time, asking whether they still deserve preferential treatment, especially as in the next years the covered bond universe will very likely have wid- ened further still. Therefore it is one of the core interests of the industry, especially of the traditional covered bond industry, to work on such a differentiation, and to work on differentiation that bites. Day: Rumour has it that German struc- Diemer: “The interpretation of these concepts needs to tured covered bonds are on the horizon. be the same for each and every issuer” Would Helaba or Aareal consider struc- tured covered bonds to be of interest?like to be invested in. As far as I understand set classes. In such an environment a label Diemer: We offer established capitalthe label, it’s a UCITS definition of a covered that can ring-fence the traditional high markets products. These are Pfandbriefe,bond plus a certain transparency require- quality asset class can be of value. senior notes, deposits and our share.ment. It’s nice to have and if you follow that For this to be achieved, it is key that There is no intention to offer anything likeroute, it might be nice to introduce it, but such a label has teeth. Whenever you de- a structured covered bond. In our discus-that is not freeing us as investors from the fine criteria, there has to be a certain like- sions with investors, it’s extremely im-duty of really doing our credit work. lihood that there will be covered bonds portant for them that an issuer can dem- I don’t know if they have tried to establish that will not fulfil the criteria, otherwise onstrate that it can rely on a diversifieda link to the ECB or something like that — a label is not really of much added value. refinancing base. The role played by de-there were ideas to do so. It does make a dif- That is the challenge in the European con- posits or the role played by our footprintference if you say a covered bond is UCITS text, finding a definition that actually ful- in the Schuldschein market is an impor-compliant or not, it has implications for our fils this requirement. tant aspect for our investors. The currentportfolios, whether it is CRD compliant or diversification we have on the liability sidenot. But the ECBC is not an official body. “And now they are is sufficient for our capital markets access.Homey: I very much agree. Perhaps it is perhaps trying to Gipp: For Helaba this product is not ofan attempt to establish a new brand like establish a new any interest at all.Pfandbrief. Everyone knows what qualitya Pfandbrief is, and now they are perhaps quality standard on a I think it is actually very much a function of what you want to substitutetrying to establish a new quality standard European basis.” through any structured covered bondon a European basis. funding. I personally see it as a substitute This is important both for investors for senior unsecured funding, also from aTolckmitt: In general, we welcome the and also from a regulatory perspective. pricing point of view, and not for coveredidea of such a label, in such an environ- Only if you can make a convincing point bond funding. So it could potentially be ament. First of all, post-crisis, a number to regulators that what you are defining valuable instrument for those banks thatof jurisdictions are considering setting is really a high quality asset class will you do not have access to the senior unsecuredup covered bond laws that might not be receive regulatory relief or preferential market, who have a very specialised busi-the same as the classic European ones, the treatment. And only if you have this kind ness model or who do not have alternativeUS in particular. And secondly, issuers of preferential treatment will the label be funding possibilities. But due in particu-of all kinds are interested in transferring widely accepted by issuers because in- lar to the three year ECB tender that wasthe idea of covered funding to other as- vestors are paying attention to it, and as announced in December and that will be36 The Covered Bond Report Jan/Feb 2012
  8. 8. THE PFANDBRIEF ROUNDTABLE 2012carried out again in February, this need probably not have far reaching effects. It some large investors that cannot buy ourfor alternative senior unsecured funding may be a good thing going forward when quality product due to the fact that we justat attractive costs has more or less van- we are in calmer waters, but right now it offer Eu500m transactions. We work withished, so I don’t think this instrument will doesn’t help us too much. those investors that are ready to invest infind very much interest. It comes down to the banks deleverag- Eu500m transactions. Another point which I see as extremely ing and reducing the size of their tradingcrucial with regard to the use of structured books, whether they are willing and able Buschmann: Fact is that investors arecovered bonds is the tranching of balance to take positions. liquidity takers and they cannot do muchsheets, which puts the senior unsecured about improving liquidity. It’s more upinvestor in a more and more subordinated “Covered bonds will to the market-makers to develop moreposition, and that is something that banksshould be generally very, very careful in my view certainly sophisticated risk management tools and free up risk budgets again for their trad-with. Ultimately that could have negative not be the new ing books, then to apply these changeseffects on the rating, and would then af-fect your entire product offering right up unsecured. That to and show a commitment to the covered bond product. Then liquidity would beto covered bonds. me is quite clear.” able to come back. Maybe not to the levels we have seen years ago, but it might comeTolckmitt: If you look at the current dif- Tolckmitt: It was never expected that back to levels that are reasonable for in-ficult funding situation, especially in the market liquidity would increase dramati- vestors willing to trade.unsecured sector, there is a certain logic cally the day we launched the looking for other funding instruments We have been looking at how to in- Burmeister: It perhaps also comes back toperhaps based on the idea of covered crease transparency because from an the issuers choosing syndicate banks that arefunding, particularly given their preferen- investor’s point of view — and maybe providers of secondary market liquidity.tial treatment. But it would be wrong to not the sophisticated investors, but theassume that any of this preferential treat- overall investor base — price transpar- Gipp: It is not only a matter of investorsment would extend to structured covered ency was one of the main areas where asking for liquidity and of issuers provid-bonds. None of it will. investors were critical of the Pfandbrief ing backstop liquidity. Indeed you have to Furthermore, to answer a question raised market during the crisis. They said that be comfortable with the syndicate you arein many discussions recently, covered bonds one of the differentiating aspects of the choosing, and also you have to be very com-will in my view certainly not be the new un- Pfandbrief market relative to other cov- fortable with the placement of your bonds.secured. That to me is quite clear. ered bond markets was that they could A strong trend that we have seen in the past From an issuer’s point of view, you always get in and out of positions in couple of years is placement with more orwill always look at the cost of your overall this market, even in the worst of times, less buy and hold investors. Not buy andfunding mix, and I am pretty convinced but they were not satisfied with price hold forever, but for a longer period of timethat a heavy use of structured covered transparency at times. And given that than previously, so for those investors thebonds will have negative effects on unse- we know that the classic fixed bid/offer need for quick in-and-out trading is not ascured funding and that, as a consequence, spread market-making will not return, crucial as it was a couple of years ago.the overall funding costs will not neces- we thought about ways of increasing this The discussion about issue size is verysarily be lower than without them. transparency and that is where this ini- much a matter for investors and their tiative should help, by giving investors an general investment principles. CurrentlyDay: The vdp in January started pub- indication of where the market is. the world is divided into more or less twolishing average spread data on Jumbos. factions, with a portion of investors beingHow might this make a difference to the Day: Tammo, your benchmark was able to buy Eu500m issues and others stillsecondary market? Eu500m and so was the previous one. needing Eu1bn issues as a minimum to in-Burmeister: I don’t want to discourage What is your view on the difference in vest. From an asset-liability managementthe vdp from continuing in that respect terms of how that affects the price you point of view it would be desirable to have— and besides transparency to work on get, what investors you get, and what more rather than less investors who canother things to increase the tradability of that might reflect in terms of liquidity? buy smaller sized issues. That would makethe product — but frankly speaking when Diemer: In the last few years it has been ALM management for banks easier. iBoxxit comes down to investing it’s fair to say the issuer’s responsibility in particular has shown a little bit the way by now add-that issue size, geographic area, and un- to provide a certain backstop liquidity ing Eu500m issues into their benchmark,derlying assets are important — you can to the investor base and also to its mar- and if more and more investors followsee this reflected in where and how wide ket partners, the lead managers. As you these indices, maybe that will help to pavebid/offer spreads are — but in the current mentioned, we consistently issue Eu500m the way for smaller issues to be treated asmarket environment the vdp initiative will transactions, and you are right, there are being as liquid as Eu1bn issues. Jan/Feb 2012 The Covered Bond Report 37
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