Category Archives: Banking & Financial Institutions

Outsourcing: How Cyber Resilient Are You?

Dan Ryan is Leader of the Financial Services Advisory Practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. This post is based on a PwC publication by Bruce Oliver, Roozbeh Alavi, Garit Gemeinhardt, Amandeep Lamba, and Joe Walker.

Cyber attacks on financial institutions continue to increase, both in number and impact. While the industry’s defenses against cyber criminals have been improving, recent high-profile breaches indicate that many cyber risk areas remain under addressed.

Regulators are particularly concerned that the industry’s third-party service providers are a weak link that cyber attackers can exploit. [1] Financial institutions have become increasingly reliant on the information technology (IT) services these providers offer, either directly through the outsourcing of IT or indirectly through outsourced business processes that heavily rely on IT (e.g., loan servicing, collections, and payments). [2] Regardless, banks remain ultimately responsible—they own their service providers’ cyber risks.

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Revisiting the Regulatory Framework of the US Treasury Market

Luis A. Aguilar is a Commissioner at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. This post is based on Commissioner Aguilar’s recent public statement; the full text, including footnotes, is available here. The views expressed in the post are those of Commissioner Aguilar and do not necessarily reflect those of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the other Commissioners, or the Staff.

Yesterday [July 13, 2015], staff members of the federal agencies that comprise the Interagency Working Group for Treasury Market Surveillance (“Working Group”) issued a joint report concerning the so-called “flash crash” that occurred in the U.S. Treasury market on October 15, 2014 (the “Report”). I commend the staff of all the agencies for their hard work in putting together the Report, which examined the events of that day and the broader forces that have changed the Treasury market in recent years. This was a difficult undertaking, but the report does an excellent job of discussing the known factors, while acknowledging that more work needs to be done.

The remarkable events of that day, which cannot yet be fully explained, have dispelled any lingering notion that the Treasury market is the staid marketplace it was once thought to be. The transformative changes that swept through the equities and options markets in the past decade have vastly reshaped the landscape of the Treasury market, as well. As a result, the structure, participants, and technological underpinnings of today’s Treasury market are far different than they were just a few years ago.

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Custodial Bank’s Technical Failure Results in Dell Stockholders Losing Appraisal Rights

Steven Epstein is a partner and Co-Head of the Mergers & Acquisitions practice at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP. This post is based on a Fried Frank publication authored by Mr. Epstein, Robert C. Schwenkel, John E. Sorkin, and Gail Weinstein. This post is part of the Delaware law series, which is cosponsored by the Forum and Corporation Service Company; links to other posts in the series are available here.

In In re Appraisal of Dell (July 13, 2015), Vice Chancellor Laster, stating that he was compelled by Delaware Supreme Court precedent, applied a “strict” interpretation of the “Continuous Holder Requirement” of the Delaware appraisal statute. The Vice Chancellor, granting summary judgment in favor of Dell, Inc., held that the funds seeking appraisal of almost one million Dell shares (acquired by them after announcement of the Dell going-private transaction) had not met the Continuous Holder Requirement and so had lost their right to appraisal.

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Basel III Liquidity Framework: Final Net Stable Funding Ratio Disclosure Standards

Andrew R. Gladin is a partner in the Financial Services and Corporate and Finance Groups at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. This post is based on a Sullivan & Cromwell publication authored by Mr. Gladin, Mark J. Welshimer, Andrea R. Tokheim, and Christopher F. Nenno.

Last week, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (the “Basel Committee”) published final standards (the “Final Disclosure Standards”) for the disclosure of information relating to banks’ net stable funding ratio (the “NSFR”) calculations. [1] The Final Disclosure Standards were adopted substantially as proposed in December 2014. [2]

The NSFR, which the Basel Committee adopted in final form in October 2014, [3] is one of the key standards, along with the liquidity coverage ratio (the “LCR”), [4] introduced by the Basel Committee to strengthen liquidity risk management as part of the Basel III framework. The NSFR is designed to promote more medium- and long-term funding of the assets and activities of banks over a one-year time horizon. The Final Disclosure Standards, in turn, are part of the broader so-called Pillar 3 disclosure regime (along with disclosure requirements in capital rules as well as the LCR-related disclosure framework) and are designed to “improve the transparency of regulatory funding …, enhance market discipline, and reduce uncertainty in the markets as the NSFR is implemented.” [5]

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Federal Reserve Provides Guidance on Bank M&A

Edward D. Herlihy is a partner and co-chairman of the Executive Committee at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. The following post is based on a Wachtell Lipton memorandum by Mr. Herlihy, Richard K. Kim, and Matthew M. Guest.

The Federal Reserve Board approved BB&T’s application to acquire Susquehanna Bancshares earlier this week and set the stage for an August 1 closing—just over eight months from the date of announcement. The BB&T/Susquehanna transaction will be the largest U.S. bank merger in recent years to close within this timeframe. This acquisition follows closely after the timely approval of two other smaller acquisitions by BB&T, of Bank of Kentucky in June and of former Citibank branches in Texas in February. The series of promptly completed transactions reflects well on BB&T’s M&A and regulatory approach and continues its long history of successful deal-making.

Also very recently, another successful and acquisitive bank, Sterling Bancorp, completed its acquisition of Hudson Valley Holding Corp. This transaction was transformative in taking Sterling above $10 billion in assets—an important threshold for regulatory purposes which triggers requirements for annual stress tests, caps on debit card interchange fees and other new requirements. Again, the transaction was completed within 8 months of announcement and in line with market expectations, despite protests by community groups pursuant to the Community Reinvestment Act (“CRA”).

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Second Circuit Decision Could Disrupt Secondary Market for Bank-Originated Loans

Bryan Chegwidden is partner and co-leader of the Investment Management Group at Ropes & Gray LLP. This post is based on a Ropes & Gray alert.

A May 22, 2015 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit appears to disturb the generally settled body of law concerning the status of non-bank investors with respect to applicable usury laws for bank-originated loans. As assignees of a national bank, such non-bank investors were generally deemed to stand in the shoes of the bank with respect to applicable usury laws. However, in Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC, [1] the Second Circuit rejected this principle and held that the usury laws of the debtor’s jurisdiction could apply to non-bank investors. Consequently, unless reversed, Madden could significantly disrupt the secondary market for bank loans originated by national banks, as well as affect the valuation of such loans already held by non-bank investors. Bank lenders, securitization platforms and non-bank investors, including specialty debt funds, could be affected.

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Fed’s Volcker Relief for Foreign Funds

Dan Ryan is Leader of the Financial Services Advisory Practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. This post is based on a PwC publication by Mr. Ryan, David Harpest, Scott Levine, and Armen Meyer.

On Friday, June 12, 2015, the Federal Reserve (Fed) began addressing the question of whether foreign funds should be considered “banking entities” under the Bank Holding Company Act (BHCA), and therefore be subject to the Volcker Rule’s proprietary trading restriction. The Fed’s guidance (provided in the form of a “Frequently Asked Question,” or FAQ) clarifies that foreign public funds (e.g., UCITS [1]) will not be considered banking entities merely due to their boards being controlled by an affiliate (i.e., an affiliate within the BHC capable of holding a majority of a fund’s director seats). [2]

However, with only weeks to go before the July 21, 2015 deadline, the FAQ does not resolve two other questions that have vexed foreign banks regarding the application of “banking entity” to foreign funds. First, the board control provision still applies to foreign private funds (i.e., foreign funds that are privately offered to institutional or high net worth investors in a manner similar to US hedge fund offerings). Second, another BHCA provision which establishes control when 25% or more of a fund’s voting shares are owned by an affiliate still applies to foreign private funds, and to a lesser extent to foreign public funds.

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Regulatory Arbitrage and Cross-Border Bank Acquisitions

Alvaro Taboada is an Assistant Professor of Finance at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. This post is based on an article by Professor Taboada and Andrew Karolyi, Professor of Finance at Cornell University.

In our forthcoming Journal of Finance paper, Regulatory Arbitrage and Cross-Border Bank Acquisitions, we examine how differences in bank regulation influence cross-border bank acquisition flows and share price reactions to cross-border deal announcements. The recent global financial crisis, caused in part by systemic failures in bank regulation, has sparked, among other things, a strong push for both stricter capital requirements and greater international coordination in regulation. For example, seven of the 10 recommendations of the 2011 Report of the Cross-Border Bank Resolution Group of the Basel Committee for Banking Supervision (BCBS) propose greater coordination of national measures to deal with the increasingly important cross-border activities of banks. Some argue this push for tougher regulations and increased restrictions on bank activities may create incentives for “regulatory arbitrage,” whereby banks from countries with strict regulations engage in cross-border activities in countries with weaker regulations. The purpose of the study is to shed light on the motives behind regulatory arbitrage by examining one of the most important types of investment decisions that banks can make—namely, cross-border acquisitions.

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Volcker Rule: Agencies Release New Guidance

Whitney A. Chatterjee is partner at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. This post is based on a Sullivan & Cromwell publication authored by Ms. Chatterjee, C. Andrew Gerlach, Eric M. Diamond, and Ken Li; the complete publication, including Appendix, is available here.

[June 12, 2015], the staffs of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the “Federal Reserve”), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (collectively, the “Agencies”) provided two important additions to their existing list of Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”) addressing the implementation of section 13 of the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, as amended (the “BHC Act”), commonly known as the “Volcker Rule.”

The Volcker Rule imposes broad prohibitions on proprietary trading and investing in and sponsoring private equity funds, hedge funds and certain other investment vehicles (“covered funds”) by “banking entities” and their affiliates. The Volcker Rule, as implemented by the final rule issued by the Agencies (the “Final Rule”), provides exclusions from the definition of covered fund for certain foreign public funds and joint ventures.

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Resolution: Deposit Insurance—Burden Shifts to Bank

Dan Ryan is Leader of the Financial Services Advisory Practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. This post is based on a PwC publication by Mr. Ryan, Mike Alix, Adam Gilbert, and Armen Meyer.

On April 21st, the FDIC proposed new requirements for its largest supervised banks (37 institutions) to improve the record keeping of their deposit accounts. Issued via an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANPR”), the proposal shifts the obligation of calculating FDIC deposit insurance payouts from the FDIC to the banks.

The agency has for some time been concerned about its ability to accurately calculate deposit insurance payouts during a short window following the failure of a large bank. These concerns are in part fueled by the current trend of deposit concentration at the largest banks, and the banks’ (and perhaps the FDIC’s) inadequate technological capability to timely process significant volumes of data.

We expect meeting these proposed requirements to be challenging for banks, especially with respect to obtaining necessary account information that is not currently collected. In addition, banks will need to significantly invest in their data systems to be able to maintain and process this (and other) information in a standardized format, and to calculate insurance payouts at the end of each business day.

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