WASHINGTON - The Federal Housing Finance Board's rule changing the capital structure of the Federal Home Loan banks has been criticized by eight of the 12 district banks, which argued that parts of it are unfair and would put them at a competitive disadvantage.
The Finance Board requested additional comments in March, inquiring whether any "unforeseen issue" had complicated enforcement of the new structure. It asked the industry specifically to address its decisions on how to limit the dividends that can be paid to class A stockholders and how to capitalize out-of-district assets, such as loans.
The rule, which was mandated by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and issued in December, is to take effect Oct. 31. It would reduce the Home Loan banks' ability to use retained earnings to pay dividends to class A stockholders, whose shares are redeemable six months after issuance.
It also would bar the banks from selling stock to nonmembers. This could create problems, the Home Loan banks said, because it is the money from stock purchases that capitalizes their assets. Banks that hold assets originated outside their districts would therefore have to use capital raised within their districts to capitalize such assets.
The respondents, which also included two industry associations and World Savings Bank, disagreed with both elements of the rule.
On dividends, Raymond R. Christman, president and chief executive officer of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, wrote, "There is no indication that Congress intended to deprive class A shareholders of dividends when it granted ownership of retained earnings to class B shareholders. We recommend that the Finance Board clearly provide that payment of dividends out of current earnings to class A shareholders is permissible, recognizing that current income must first be closed to the retained earnings account."
The question of capitalizing out-of-district assets led Dan R. Dixon, group senior vice president of World Savings Bank in Oakland, Calif., to write that the rule's provision on this issue would give nonmembers better terms for their assets than members get.
"Unless the Bank redresses this inequity through lower asset prices or increased alternative collateral requirements for the nonmembers, the Bank disadvantages its own members and fails to meet its statutory obligation to treat all its members fairly," Mr. Dixon wrote.
In addition to the comments specifically requested by the Finance Board, respondents raised several other issues, including that of a 100% credit conversion for commitments to make or buy other loans.
Some said a requirement that banks hold 100% capital against loans that have not been made yet is unreasonable; they proposed that this be reduced to 50% for commitments of more than a year and zero for commitments with a maturity of a year or less.
"The final rule grossly overestimates the risks attendant to Federal Home Loan Bank business and requires risk-based capital that is both excessive and which will place the Home Loan Banks in a disadvantageous competitive position" compared with other government-sponsored enterprises, said the letter written by Peter E. Gutzmer, senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary of the Chicago Home Loan bank.
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