Monthly Archives: December 2012

Treasury Issues FX Swap and FX Forward Exemption

Annette Nazareth is a partner in the Financial Institutions Group at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, and a former commissioner at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. This post is based on a Davis Polk client memorandum.

On November 16, 2012, the Secretary of the Treasury issued a much awaited determination that foreign exchange (“FX”) swaps and FX forwards should not be regulated as swaps under the Commodity Exchange Act for most purposes, including registration, mandatory clearing and trade execution, and margin. As was the case in the proposed determination, FX derivatives other than FX swaps and forwards, such as FX options, currency swaps and non-deliverable forwards, are not covered by the exemption and would be regulated as swaps.

FX swaps and forwards will be subject to swap data repository trade reporting requirements applicable to swaps and to historical swaps. They will not be subject to “real-time” trade reporting requirements, however. Furthermore, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s enhanced anti-evasion authority will apply to FX swaps and forwards. In addition, swap dealers and major swap participants transacting in FX swaps and forwards must comply with “business conduct standards” contained in Section 4s(h) of the Commodity Exchange Act and implementing regulations. [1] These include the external business conduct rules, which impose on swap dealers and major swap participants various due diligence, fair dealing and disclosure obligations, certain heightened obligations when dealing with “special entities” and, in the case of swap dealers recommending swaps or swap trading strategies, suitability obligations. They also include the CFTC’s internal business conduct rules relating to diligent supervision. Finally, in discussing enhanced business conduct standards applicable to FX swaps and forwards, the final determination cites to the CFTC’s recently finalized rules on swap confirmation, portfolio reconciliation, portfolio compression and trading relationship documentation, which were adopted in part pursuant to Section 4s(h).

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Fed Begins 2013 CCAR Capital Planning Process for Large Banks

The following post comes to us from Luigi L. De Ghenghi and Andrew S. Fei, attorneys in the Financial Institutions Group at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP. This post is based on a Davis Polk publication by Mr. De Ghenghi, Mr. Fei, and other Davis Polk attorneys; the full version, including footnotes and appendix, is available here.

The Federal Reserve launched the 2013 capital planning and stress testing process for large bank holding companies (“BHCs”) with the publication, on November 9, 2012, of two sets of instructions: one set for the 19 BHCs that participated in the 2011 Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (“CCAR”) process (“CCAR BHCs”) and another set for the 11 other U.S.-domiciled, top-tier BHCs with total consolidated assets of $50 billion or more that did not participate in the 2011 CCAR process (“non-CCAR BHCs”). On the same day, the Federal Reserve joined with other U.S. banking agencies to announce that recent proposals to implement Basel III in the United States will not become effective on January 1, 2013.

The Federal Reserve’s instructions for the CCAR BHCs, which reveal how the Dodd-Frank Act’s stress testing requirements will be integrated with the Federal Reserve’s capital planning requirements, are instructive for the non-CCAR BHCs that will become subject to Dodd-Frank stress-testing requirements in the 2014 capital planning cycle. Similarly, nonbank financial companies designated by the Financial Stability Oversight Council (“FSOC”) for supervision by the Federal Reserve will be subject to Dodd-Frank stress-testing requirements and, under a proposal by the Federal Reserve, would also be required to submit annual capital plans to the Federal Reserve.

For the CCAR BHCs, the two most significant changes from the 2012 process are:

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Financial Globalization and the Rise of IPOs Outside the U.S.

René Stulz is Professor Finance at Ohio State University.

In the paper, Financial Globalization and the Rise of IPOs Outside the U.S., which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, my co-authors (Craige Doidge and George Karolyi) and I document dramatic changes in the IPO landscape around the world over the past two decades. U.S. IPOs have become less important and IPOs in other countries have become more important, whether one looks at counts or at proceeds. In fact, U.S. IPO activity has generally not kept pace with the economic importance of the U.S. We show that financial globalization plays a critical role in facilitating the increasing importance of IPOs by non-U.S. Firms.

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UK and EU Corporate Governance Developments — Update

John Olson is a founding partner of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Washington, D.C. office and a visiting professor at the Georgetown Law Center. This post updates a Gibson Dunn alert by Selina S. Sagayam; the previous post, titled “From the Shareholders’ Spring to the Autumn of Activism,” is available here.

We promised to keep you updated on the legal and regulatory developments which we identified as pending developments in our Alert “From the Shareholders’ Spring to the Autumn of Activism . . . Power without Accountability — A look at the latest developments in activism and related regulations in the UK and EU” dated 10 August 2012. [1] Since that time there have been a few new developments as summarised below:

1. Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA): New Guidance for Shareholder Engagement — Issue of Consultation Paper (October 2012) [2]

In July 2012, ICSA announced that it would partner with the Investor Stewardship Working Party to develop a good practice guide to supplement (not replace) the guidance in the UK Stewardship Code (see 3 below).

Together the groups concluded that in addition to improving the process of holding engagement meetings with shareholders, the very tone of conversation between companies and their investors should change.

ICSA published its consultation paper on 12 October seeking views on:

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PCAOB Regulatory Initiatives

Editor’s Note: James R. Doty is chairman of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. This post is based on Chairman Doty’s remarks at the Practising Law Institute’s 44th Annual Securities Regulation Conference, available here. The views expressed in this post are those of Chairman Doty and do not necessarily reflect the view of the PCAOB as a whole or any other Board members or staff.

I am here to talk about the regulatory initiatives of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. The PCAOB is deeply engaged in examining ways to enhance the relevance, credibility and transparency of the audit to better serve investors.

The auditing profession has developed a highly skilled body of experts capable of analyzing accounts in a way that draws out truths and insights and sheds light on confused or misleading claims. It plays an indispensable role in making our capital markets fair and strong.

But I believe we are in a high risk period that merits more attention to the audit, not less. When companies make lay-offs, as we’ve seen recently, they often affect the internal audit and compliance staff — the first line of defense for fraud and other corporate malfeasance. This should be a concern to the legal community.

Although we have never needed it more, the audit too has, in the minds of some, become a commodity to be contained with other compliance costs.

In the United States, large audit firms’ revenues from consulting are growing 15 percent a year. Audit fees have stagnated at, basically, the inflation rate. Thus audit practices have shrunk in comparison to audit firms’ other client service lines.

This can weaken the strength of the audit practice in the firm overall. The problem is compounded when audit firms turn their talents to other endeavors that may further damage public views on the relevance and value of audit.

To be relevant, the auditor must speak to and for investors. Fair or not, that is in question today.

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