Equity derivatives are used by a wide range of buy-side firms.  For example, public companies use equity derivatives on their own shares for treasury management purposes (for example, share repurchase transactions and other stock buy-back programs).  Also, investment managers and their clients use equity derivatives in pursuit of investment objectives and related strategies.

Given the unprecedented levels of market volatility, counterparties to equity derivatives should consider analyzing their trade confirmations to determine whether market events could result in:

  • The termination of a particular transaction prior to its scheduled termination date; or
  • An additional payment by one of the counterparties.

In addition, it is a good idea to make sure that any payment or pricing provisions that reference a particular rate (like the Fed Funds Effective Rate) will function as intended in the current low interest rate environment.

Continue Reading Equity Derivatives and Market Volatility: Check Trade Confirmations to Determine Whether Early Termination or Additional Payments May Be Required

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) today issued an “FAQ” to financial institutions entitled, Frequently Asked Questions for Financial Institutions Affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Referred to as COVID-19).

The FDIC has highlighted the following items in respect of this FAQ:

  • The FDIC encourages financial institutions to work with customers affected by COVID-19 in a prudent manner, especially borrowers from industry sectors particularly vulnerable to the volatility in the current economic environment and small businesses and independent contractors that are reliant on affected industries.
  • A financial institution’s prudent efforts to modify the terms on existing loans for affected customers will not be subject to examiner criticism.

Continue Reading Payment Accommodations Under Commercial Loans by Banks to Borrowers: Remember the Related Interest Rate Hedge Documentation

On March 9, 2020, FINRA released Regulatory Notice 20-08 (the “Regulatory Notice”) providing guidance and limited relief to its member broker-dealers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, the Regulatory Notice requests that broker-dealers evaluate their compliance with FINRA Rule 4370, which requires broker-dealers to create, maintain, and update upon any material change, BCPs (Business Continuity Plans) identifying procedures relating to emergency or significant business disruption. Continue Reading FINRA Issues Notice Regarding Business Continuity Planning During COVID-19 Outbreak

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) yesterday announced that its Division of Market Oversight (DMO) has granted temporary no-action relief to designated contract markets (DCMs) and swap execution facilities (SEFs).

In a related press release, CFTC Chairman Heath P. Tarbert stated that, “These prudent, targeted, and temporary actions will help facilitate orderly trading and liquidity in our derivatives markets. The CFTC remains squarely focused on promoting their integrity, resilience, and vibrancy through sound regulation.”

This post summarizes this no-action relief.

In addition, we have prepared the attached Overview of COVID-19 Relief Provided by the CFTC to SEFs and DCMs to supplement the information presented in this post.

Continue Reading CFTC Provides COVID-19 No-Action Relief to DCMs and SEFs

On March 18, 2020, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) Office of Customer Education and Outreach (“OCEO”) published a Customer Advisory warning market participants away from potential fraudulent schemes that may arise to take advantage of market volatility related to COVID-19.

In a related Press Release, CFTC Chief Communications Officer and Director of Public Affairs Michael Short stated, “[d]uring this period of market volatility, we want to ensure the public has important information to help detect and stop fraud”.

Continue Reading CFTC Staff Publish Customer Advisory on Fraudulent Schemes in Wake of Coronavirus Pandemic

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today announced that its Division of Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight (DSIO) has granted temporary no-action relief to futures commission merchants (FCMs), introducing brokers (IBs), swap dealers (SDs), retail foreign exchange dealers (RFEDs), floor brokers (FBs), and members of designated contract markets (DCMs) and swap execution facilities (SEFs) that are not registered with the CFTC in any capacity.

In a related press release, CFTC Chairman Heath P. Tarbert stated that, “These prudent, targeted, and temporary actions will help facilitate orderly trading and liquidity in our derivatives markets.  The CFTC remains squarely focused on promoting their integrity, resilience, and vibrancy through sound regulation.”

This post summarizes this no-action relief.

In addition, we have prepared the attached Overview of COVID-19 Relief Provided by the CFTC to supplement the information presented in this post.

Continue Reading CFTC Provides COVID-19 No-Action Relief to FCMs, IBs, SDs, RFEDs, FBs, and Members of DCMs and SEFs

This post is the second in a series that we are preparing in response to questions from clients, colleagues, and contacts.  Yesterday’s post, which addressed interest rate swaps in a zero or negative interest rate environment, is available here.

In today’s post, we address considerations related to Decline in Net Asset Value (NAV) provisions in agreements that govern the trading of over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives and other financial contracts. 

As we explore in greater detail, the recent volatility across financial markets makes it more important than ever for investment managers and their clients to understand – and focus on – these fairly common contractual provisions.

Continue Reading Master Agreements and Volatile Markets: Decline in Net Asset Value Provisions

I. DERIVATIVES ISSUES

1. Inventory “relationship level” considerations in legal documentation that governs your derivatives trading relationships (ISDA Master Agreements, Futures Customer Agreements, Master Securities Forward Transaction Agreements, etc.)

a. Example: Decline in Net Asset Value Provisions (Common in ISDAs)

i. Identify the trigger decline levels and time frames at which transactions under the agreement can be terminated (25% over a 1-month period – is that measured on a rolling basis or by reference to the prior month’s end?)

ii. Confirm whether all or only some transactions can be terminated (typically, it is all transactions)

iii. Identify the notice requirements that apply when a threshold is crossed

iv. Identify whether the agreement includes a “fish or cut bait clause” that restricts the ability of the other party to designate the termination of the transactions under the trading agreement

Continue Reading Market Volatility Regulatory Outline for Asset Managers

This post will address a question that we have been receiving from many contacts, clients and colleagues in recent days (particularly in light of the rate cut announced yesterday afternoon by the Federal Reserve Board).

  • What will happen to an interest rate swap in a zero or negative interest rate environment?

We first addressed this question in a May 2015 post entitled, Dealing with “Deemed Zero Rates” in Loan Agreements and Related Interest Rate Swap Documentation.

Continue Reading Interest Rate Swaps in “Zero” and Negative Interest Rate Environments