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FSA learns to love covered bonds

Flexibility is the watchword as the UK regulator clarifies its guidelines on capital ratios

A year after it dismayed UK issuers by suggesting a 4% guideline for assessing covered bond issuance, the Financial Services Authority has given covered bonds its blessing.

Managing risk

In a letter to the British Bankers' Association on August 4, the FSA says it would still expect issuers to tell it if their covered bond issuance exceeded 4% of total assets, but most banks would only have to increase their individual capital ratios (ICRs) when issuance reached 20%.

"The ability to access the securitization and the covered bond markets is a significant extra tool for banks to manage liquidity risk, including stress liquidity risk," Paul Sharma, head of the FSA's prudential standards department, says, before adding that this flexibility is only available to regular issuers.

UK covered bond issuance relative to total assets
HBOS 740 12.5 1.7%
Bradford & Bingley 57 2 3.5%
Northern Rock 105 3.5 3.3%
Abbey National 277 2 0.7%

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