DM round-up: FSA takes the covers off
The UK’s Financial Services Authority is working on rules for UK covered bonds. Bankers hope that the regulator will announce at the February 7 Zurich meeting of the European Covered Bond Council plans for a framework for UK financial institutions. Abbey, HBOS, Northern Rock, Nationwide and Bradford & Bingley have all issued covered bonds using UK contract law. But because the UK has not introduced a special public supervision, UK covered bonds attract a 20% risk weighting for BIS restricted investors as opposed to the 10% enjoyed by investors for bonds issued where there is such supervision or specific covered bond law. This puts the UK issuers at a disadvantage as their bonds price wider. This development is a volte-face by the regulator. It initially had a conservative stance on the structure, placing an unofficial limit on the proportion of their overall balance sheets UK issuers could sell as covered bonds.