FSB finalises minimum TLAC requirements for G-SIBs

FSB finalises minimum TLAC requirements for G-SIBs

Following its consultation a year ago and a quantitative impact assessment, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) has finalised its minimum requirements for Total Loss Absorbing Capacity (TLAC) for G-SIBs.

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This represents a further element in the FSB’s ‘too big to fail’ agenda. The key requirement will be for G-SIBs to hold long-term debt that can be written down or converted into equity in the event that a G-SIB is put into liquidation, thereby providing a specific means of absorbing losses and recapitalising the G-SIB. The numbers are significant, with the best estimate for the G-SIBs TLAC shortfall being €1.1tn.

Most of the details of the TLAC requirements remain broadly unchanged from the earlier consultation (click here to read our November 2014 alert), but the overall minimum requirement has been pitched in the middle of the range proposed a year ago (at 18% of RWAs) and a (long) timeframe has been specified for the rollout to emerging market G-SIBs.
The FSB’s standards had already been pre-empted by the proposed rules published by the Federal Reserve Bank at the end of October, which imposes a tougher standard on US headquartered G-SIBs and on the US operations of G-SIBs headquartered outside the US. 

Download FSB TLAC Principles and Term Sheet PDF for more.

Implications for banks

Funding will become more expensive
Some banks subject to these requirements will need to raise additional debt that qualifies for inclusion in TLAC, convert some existing long term debt into TLAC debt instruments, and issue TLAC debt through resolution entities. This may be expensive, depending on the coupons demanded by investors, who know what they will be among the first creditors to be bailed-in in the event that a G-SIB is put into resolution. This may not be fully offset by reduced costs of other debt and deposits that might otherwise have been subject to earlier bail-in without the TLAC buffer.
This will be particularly expensive for banks that are funded predominantly by retail and corporate customer deposits, who will have to replace some of these deposits with TLAC qualifying debt. Overall, these TLAC standards are likely to erode further the competitive advantages of G-SIBs.
The amounts are significant
The quantitative impact assessment published by the Basel Committee shows that 20 (out of 27 non-emerging market G-SIBs) G-SIBs currently have TLAC below 16% of RWAs, and 12 have TLAC below 6% of total leverage exposure. These G-SIBs would need to issue an additional €755 billion of TLAC to meet both the 18% of RWAs and 6.75% of total leverage exposure minimum TLAC ratios. The three emerging market G-SIBs (as on the November 2014 list of G-SIBs) have an additional shortfall of €355 billion. 

Higher price and reduced volumes of bank lending
In addition to passing on the higher cost of funding to their customers, G-SIBs may respond to these new requirements by reducing the volume of lending, rather than just by issuing new debt to cover the TLAC requirement. This potential reduction in credit origination capacity will in turn have an adverse impact on the G20’s jobs and growth agenda; the political tensions here are obvious.       
Although the standards cover various types of group structure and resolution strategy, they will not remove entirely the pressures on host jurisdictions to impose local requirements for TLAC for bank subsidiaries in individual jurisdictions, just as they have set local requirements for capital, liquidity, funding and corporate governance.
G-SIBs will need to work effectively with their Crisis Management Group (CMG) of regulators if they are to manage additional local minimum TLAC requirements.
Continuing business model uncertainty

The RWA denominator remains subject to significant upward change as a result of the Basel Committee’s continuing work on revisions to the standardised approaches to credit, market and operational risk, on restrictions on the use of internal models, and on the specification of a capital floor. 
Multiple requirements

Some countries have already announced requirements that may exceed the FSB minimum.  In the European Union, the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive requires banks to hold up to 10% of liabilities (not RWAs) in the equivalent of TLAC. In the US, the Fed has proposed that G-SIBs headquartered in the US should hold TLAC of at least 9.5% of total leverage exposure and that the US operations of non-US G-SIBs should hold internal TLAC (issued to the foreign parent) of the greater of 16% of RWAs, 6% of total leverage exposure and 8% of total consolidated assets. 
National authorities are likely to extend some form of these TLAC requirements to D-SIBs and possibly – as in the EU – to other banks undertaking significant critical economic functions. Therefore it has the potential to hit many more banks than just G-SIBs.  

In summary

The main features of the minimum standard are:

  • The FSB minimum standard is for a G-SIB to hold TLAC of at least 16% of RWAs and at least 6% of the leverage ratio denominator from 1 January 2019, and at least 18% and 6.75% respectively from 1 January 2022; 
  • For G-SIBs headquartered in emerging market economies (so currently the four G-SIBs headquarted in China) these deadlines are pushed out to 2025 and 2028; 
  • G-SIB capital surcharges, and any counter cyclical capital buffer and other country-specific capital buffers would be in addition to the TLAC minimum requirements;   
  • The FSB minimum TLAC requirements should be applied to each resolution entity within a G-SIB, reflecting the resolution strategy for each G-SIB (so applied to the holding company or parent company under a single point of entry strategy, and to major operating subsidiaries under a multiple point of entry strategy); 
  • TLAC should then be distributed within a G-SIB to its material sub-groups (so each material sub-group maintains internal TLAC of 75-90% of the amount of TLAC it would have held had it been a resolution entity);     
  • National authorities should determine firm-specific TLAC requirements for each G-SIB, with the FSB standard acting as a minimum requirement;   
  • TLAC comprises the regulatory capital instruments and other long term (minimum residual maturity of at least one year), subordinated (with some exceptions) and unsecured debt instruments.  These instruments should not include insured deposits, liabilities arising from derivatives or tax liabilities; 
  • To provide for recapitalisation through the conversion of debt into equity, at least one-third of minimum TLAC requirements should be in the form of debt;  
  • Banks’ (both G-SIBs and other internationally active banks) holdings of G-SIBs’ TLAC should be deducted from the TLAC of the holder.  The Basel Committee has issued a consultation paper on how this should operate, under which holdings of TLAC instruments that do not otherwise qualify as regulatory capital would be deducted from the tier 2 capital of the holder (just as a bank’s holding of other banks’ regulatory capital is already deducted from the regulatory capital of the holder); 
  • Although the liabilities included within TLAC provide the first means of absorbing losses and recapitalising a bank in resolution, other liabilities could also be bailed-in as required; 
  • and The FSB standards apply only to G-SIBs, although some national regulators are likely to extend this in some form to D-SIBs.

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