Blazing a trail U.S. banks will follow next year, ABN Amro has issued $500 million of securities designed to meet new capital requirements for derivatives risk.
The Chicago unit of the Dutch bank last week marketed the issue of five- year global notes designed to meet new Tier 3 capital requirements. It was the first bank to market securities for this purpose.
"This is something that we need because some of our major banks are heavily involved in derivatives," said Robert Strand, senior economist at the American Bankers Association.
Tier 3 capital was mandated as of Jan. 1 for European banks under a capital advisory directive from international banking regulators. U.S. banks are expected to comply by Jan. 1, 1998.
Mr. Strand said U.S. banks involved in a significant amount of trading activities - such as Bankers Trust New York Corp., Citicorp, and BankAmerica Corp. - will be affected by the new Tier 3 capital regulations.
The global notes are "a new option, and it is good because it gives banks added flexibility to meet their capital standards," said Mr. Strand.
For debt to qualify as Tier 3 capital, it must be subordinated and have a minimum maturity of two years. Tier 2 capital can be subordinated but must have a maturity of at least 10 years.
The ABN Amro issue, led by Morgan Stanley & Co., was well received by U.S. investors, market observers said. "There is a bit of a demand by investors for short-term subordinated paper," said Ian Linnel, an analyst at Standard & Poor's.
S&P bank analyst Tanya Azarchs does not expect a groundswell of issuance in the next two years but said Tier 3 capital instruments would mean some new issuance. "Investment bankers may find it a cheaper form of capital," she said. "And investors might find this form of subordinated debt more attractive."
The Federal Reserve announced in August that it expects U.S. banks to comply with the new capital requirement.
In other capital market news, Standard & Poor's assigned a BB-minus rating to Aames Financial Corp.'s $150 million senior note issue.
The seven-year notes, issued two weeks ago, had a yield of 9.125%
S&P said the rating reflected low asset quality, the company's aggressive growth in recent years, and a relatively new management team.
Senior analyst Roger Merritt of Fitch Investors Service, which assigned a slightly higher BB rating to the issue, said the company has "strong earnings growth and is conservative in its credit writing standards.
"They diversified their origination channels, which cuts down on risk," he concluded.