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16/12/2014 2014/1525 Press Release- Improvements needed in CRAs surveillance of structured finance credit ratings , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published a report on the findings of its investigation into the way credit rating agencies (CRA) conduct surveillance of their structured finance credit ratings. The investigation, which took place between October 2013 and September 2014, was prompted by the continued relevance of structured finance products and the high outstanding volume in issuance. It focused on the four largest CRAs providing credit ratings on these finance instruments in the EU – DBRS Ratings, Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Services and Standard & Poor’s – which account for almost 100% of the total outstanding credit ratings on EU structured finance instruments. In its investigation ESMA identified a number of shortcomings in several areas affecting the surveillance of structured finance ratings for the CRAs investigated. ESMA also identified weaknesses on the level of disclosure and transparency which could be detrimental to investor protection. ESMA has not determined whether any of the Report’s findings constitute a breach of the CRA Regulation, and may take action as appropriate in due course.Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said: “ESMA’s investigation has found shortcomings in CRAs’ processes for the surveillance of structured finance credit ratings which could affect the quality of the ratings. These concerns centred on information quality controls, the application of CRAs’ methodologies and the related disclosure as well as the timely completion of the credit ratings annual review.  Issues were also identified in relation to the role and independence of the internal review function. “The high volume of issued structured finance instruments and renewed interest in securitisation as an alternative funding source make the results of this review all the more timely. “All registered CRAs should take note of the problems identified and ensure that they properly incorporate the requirements and objectives of the CRA Regulation into their working practices in order to ensure the quality of credit ratings and maintain investor confidence. The good practices identified in the Report can help with that improvement.”   ESMA has requested that CRAs put in place the remedial action plans to solve the individual concerns identified. ESMA will follow up with each of the CRAs subject to this investigation. Likewise, ESMA will monitor all other registered CRAs as part of its on-going supervision.
22/09/2014 2014-063 (Annex) EU Supervisory Authorities update on risks in EU financial system , Press Release PDF
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The Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) published today its bi-annual report on risks and vulnerabilities in the European Union's (EU) financial system. The report identifies a number of risks to financial stability in the EU, including prolonged weak economic growth in an environment characterised by high indebtedness, intensified search for yield in a protracted low interest rate environment, and uncertainties in global emerging market economies. The report also highlights risks related to conduct of business and Information Technologies (IT). Press Queries - European Banking Authority Press Office +44 (0) 207 382 1772 or press@eba.europa.eu
31/07/2014 JC/2014/062 Annex (Press Release) The Joint Committee of the ESAs remind financial institutions of their responsibilities when placing their own financial products with consumers , Press Release PDF
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The Joint Committee of the ESAs reminds financial institutions of their responsibilities when placing their own financial products with consumers. ESMA underlines risks from investing in contingent convertible instruments (CoCos). The Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities (EBA, EIOPA and ESMA) published a reminder to banks and insurance companies across the EU on the consumer protection requirements that apply to certain financial instruments they issue. In addition, ESMA highlighted specific risks posed to investors by contingent convertible instruments (CoCos).
24/07/2014 2014/61 EBA, ESMA and EIOPA consult on technical standards for financial conglomerates risk concentration and intra-group transactions , Press Release PDF
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The Joint Committee of the three European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs - EBA, ESMA and EIOPA) launched today a consultation on draft Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) on risk concentration and intra-group transactions within financial conglomerates. The technical standards aim at enhancing supervisory consistency in the application of the Financial Conglomerates Directive (FICOD). The consultation runs until 24 October 2014. The objective of the draft RTS is to clarify which risk concentrations and intra-group transactions within a financial conglomerate should be considered as significant. In addition, the RTS provide some supervisory measures for coordinators and other relevant competent authorities when identifying types of significant risk concentration and intra-group transactions, their associated thresholds and reports, where appropriate. The consultation paper is available on the websites of the three ESAs: EBA, ESMA and EIOPA. Comments to this consultation paper can be sent to the Joint Committee. Legal background The three ESAs have developed these RTS in accordance with Article 21a (1a) of Directive 2002/87/EC (FICOD), which mandates the three ESAs, through the Joint Committee, to develop RTS to clarify the definitions on risk concentration and intra-group transactions provided in Article 2 of the FICOD and to coordinate the provisions laid down in Articles 7 and 8 and Annex II.
24/06/2014 2014/689 ESMA publishes draft RTS on CRA3 transparency requirements , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published its Final Report on draft Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) required under the Credit Rating Agencies (CRA3) Regulation regarding information on transparency of structured finance instruments, the European Rating Platform and periodic reporting of fees charged by credit rating agencies. The draft RTS, which complement the existing regulatory framework for credit rating agencies (CRAs), cover: • disclosure requirements on structured finance instruments (SFIs); • the European Rating Platform (ERP); and • the periodic reporting on fees charged by CRAs. Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said: “The enhanced transparency requirements set out in these draft Regulatory Technical Standards regarding structured finance instruments, CRAs’ fees and ratings will improve the information available to both investors and supervisors. “Their implementation will contribute to a reduction in conflicts of interest, improved investor protection and market stability, and greater competition between CRAs.”
03/06/2014 2014/596 ESMA censures Standard & Poor’s for internal control failings , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has issued a public notice censuring Standard & Poor’s Credit Market Services France SAS and Standard & Poor’s Credit Market Services Europe Limited (S&P) for breaches of Regulation 1060/2009 (CRA Regulation). The decision by ESMA to issue a public notice results from its investigation into the erroneous publication on 10 November 2011 by S&P, to the subscribers of its Global Credit Portal, of an email stating “France (Republic of) (Unsolicited Ratings): DOWNGRADE”, although S&P’s rating of France had not been downgraded. ESMA found that this incident was the result of a failure by S&P to meet certain organisational requirements set out in the CRA Regulation, relating to sound internal control mechanisms, effective control and safeguard arrangements for information processing systems and decision-making procedures and organisational structures. ESMA, based on the provisions of the CRA Regulation, decided that the relevant breaches warranted a supervisory measure in the form of a public notice. The final decision on the supervisory measure took into account the steps taken by S&P to end the infringement and was considered proportionate to the seriousness of the breach. Case Background S&P, on 10 November 2011 at 15:57 CET, erroneously released to subscribers of its web-based Global Credit Portal (GCP) an email alert which stated in its header “France (Republic of) (Unsolicited Ratings): DOWNGRADE”, although S&P’s credit rating of France had not changed. GCP is one of the methods used by S&P to disseminate its credit ratings and other financial information products. Among other services, it provides an email alert function that a subscriber can customise in order to receive alerts when certain information changes on GCP, e.g. in case S&P decides to change a credit rating on a particular issuer. S&P’s internal database, where it maintained its credit ratings, was also used to store its Banking Industry Country Risk Assessments (BICRAs). BICRAs are not credit ratings but assessments of the banking systems in particular countries and have been published since 2006. S&P later decided to maintain BICRAs in the same centralised internal database as its credit ratings and to display BICRAs on GCP. The relevant technical specifications for this project treated BICRAs as ratings and no effective action was taken to address the implications this could have. This eventually led to the erroneous release when an attempt to change an incorrect display of France’s BICRA on GCP triggered an email alert stating in its header that the rating of France had been downgraded. ESMA’s Role Since July 2011 ESMA has been responsible for the regulation of credit rating agencies in the European Union including their registration and supervision in line with the requirements of the CRA Regulation. ESMA has the power to take appropriate enforcement action where it discovers a breach of the CRA Regulation, ranging from the issuance of public notices to the withdrawal of registration and imposition of fines.
02/04/2014 JC-2014-18 PR Press release- European Supervisory Authorities highlight cross-sectoral risks Press Release PDF
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European Supervisory Authorities highlight cross-sectoral risks The Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) published today its third bi-annual report on risks and vulnerabilities in the European Union's (EU) financial system. The report has identified a number of potential vulnerabilities and cross-sectoral risks to the stability of the European financial system including: weak and uneven economic recovery; uncertain outlook in a number of global emerging economies; asset price imbalances and risks of a sharp adjustment; increased search for yield in a protracted low interest rate environment; conduct of business risks; IT-related operational risks. Andrea Enria, Chairman of the EBA and current Chairman of the Joint Committee, said: “The cross-sectoral risks identified in this report will help focus the scenarios of the stress tests for banks and insurance companies. Concerns about conduct of business are growing and will also require more coordinated attention by the three ESAs”. The report highlights a fragile economic outlook in a number of EU Member States, with uncertainties about asset quality in the banking sector as well as in other institutional investor segments, and reduced growth potential in the insurance sector Moreover, concerns have also emerged in relation to the uncertain political and economic outlook in a number of global emerging economies and, more recently, to the evolving situation in Ukraine and Russia, which may impact the EU through direct and indirect transmission channels, as well as expose institutions to FX risks. In addition, the report focuses on risks associated with search for yield behaviour, which is incentivised by a low interest rate environment. Such behaviour has intensified concerns related to the build-up of imbalances and exacerbated risks linked to sudden interest rate changes, which may result in a disorderly unwinding of financial positions. Furthermore, the report highlights risks linked to the conduct of business and points to series of cases related to financial institutions’ conduct of business, which risk undermining public confidence in financial institutions and markets and which have been associated with significant redress costs. In the report the ESAs recommend supervisors to place greater emphasis on management bodies’ responsibilities to address conduct risks and ensure the appropriate protection of consumers and investors. Notes for editors The Joint Committee is a forum for cooperation that was established on 1st January 2011, with the goal of strengthening cooperation between the European Banking Authority (EBA), European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) and European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA), collectively known as the three European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs). Through the Joint Committee, the three ESAs cooperate regularly and closely and ensure consistency in their practices. In particular, the Joint Committee works in the areas of supervision of financial conglomerates, accounting and auditing, micro-prudential analyses of cross-sectoral developments, risks and vulnerabilities for financial stability, retail investment products and measures combating money laundering. In addition to being a forum for cooperation, the Joint Committee also plays an important role in the exchange of information with the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB). The full text of the report can be viewed here: Report – April 2014
21/02/2014 2014/212 Press release- ESMA sets out CRA supervision focus for 2014 Press Release PDF
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ESMA sets out CRA supervision focus for 2014 The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published its Annual Report 2013 (Report) on credit rating agencies (CRAs) in the European Union (EU). The Report also outlines ESMA’s supervisory work plan for this year. ESMA has found that CRAs continue to progress in how they comply with the CRA Regulation, including improved internal transparency and disclosure to the market on credit rating activities as well as empowerment of the compliance function. However, ESMA considers that improvements are still necessary, notably in the following areas: validation of rating methodologies, to ensure that a credit rating assessment is a comprehensive risk assessment leading to high quality ratings; internal governance, ensuring the full independence of the internal review function and thereby reducing the risk of potential conflict of interest; and robust IT systems to support the rating process, including information security controls and protection of confidential rating information. These issues form the basis for much of ESMA’s supervision activities as outlined in its 2014 work plan. This includes the completion of the two on-going supervisory reviews into CRAs’ monitoring of structured finance ratings and into small and medium-sized CRAs. A new thematic investigation on how CRAs review and validate their rating methodologies will also be launched, as well as dedicated work on CRAs’ IT systems and controls. Following the entry into force of the amended CRA Regulation in June 2013, ESMA will also complete a specific assessment on CRAs’ compliance with the new regulatory requirements. Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said: “ESMA is in its third year as the EU’s CRA regulator and today’s report provides us with an assessment of the progress made to date. However, as shown by our recent work on sovereign ratings there are still issues around governance as well as independence,objectivity and quality of the rating process that need to be remedied in order to restore market confidence in CRAs and their ratings. “We will continue to proactively and intrusively supervise CRAs and work with them to address their shortcomings. This will contribute to building confidence in the transparency and smooth functioning of EU financial markets while ensuring a high level of financial consumer protection.” The 2013 Report summarises how ESMA fulfilled its role as the supervisor of CRAs in the EU. It covers ESMA’s supervisory activities, progress in dealing with registrations, and its policy work in relation to existing and new legislative requirements. In particular, the Report focuses on the results of ESMA’s supervisory work through on-going supervision as well as thematic reviews, such as that into the sovereign ratings process of a number of CRAs, the inspections of small and medium-sized CRAs and a further inspection of the ratings publication controls in a single CRA.
11/02/2014 2014/165 ESMA consults on new CRA transparency requirements Press Release PDF
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02/12/2013 2013/1790 ESMA identifies deficiencies in CRAs sovereign ratings processes Press Release PDF
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ESMA identifies deficiencies in CRAs sovereign ratings processes The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published a Report identifying a number of deficiencies in the processes for producing and issuing sovereign ratings at the three largest credit rating agencies (CRAs), Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s. The Report follows an investigation carried out by ESMA into the sovereign rating processes at the three CRAs, between February and October 2013. The investigation was prompted by concerns about potential conflicts of interests, the impact of sovereign ratings on other types of ratings, CRAs’ capacity to cope with the number of rating actions during a period of high volatility, the use of bulk rating actions, and issues around the confidentiality and timing of rating actions. The investigation focused on the governance and organisation of sovereign rating activities, the adequacy and expertise of allocated human resources, the disclosure of rating information to the public, and ensuring its confidentiality before disclosure. ESMA identified deficiencies and issues for improvement in the following areas: • Independence and avoidance of conflicts of interests; • Confidentiality of sovereign rating information; • Timing of publication of rating actions; and • Resources allocated to sovereign ratings. ESMA has not determined whether any of the Report’s findings constitute a breach of the CRA Regulation, and may take action as appropriate in due course. Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said: “ESMA’s investigation revealed shortcomings in the sovereign ratings process which could pose risks to the quality, independence and integrity of the ratings and of the rating process. “The focus on the sovereign rating process in this investigation stems from their increased volatility over the past few years, the importance of sovereign ratings from a credit market and financial stability perspective, and their impact on other rated entities and products. “The impact which changes in these ratings can have on financial markets, and sovereign states, can be significant. Therefore, it is imperative that users can have confidence that the CRAs have adequate systems and controls in place to ensure that ratings are rigorous, free from conflicts of interest and timely. “The CRAs who were subject to this investigation still need to make improvements in their working practices to ensure their full compliance with the CRA Regulation and to eradicate inadequate practices from the past.” Investigation Findings The key areas where ESMA identified deficiencies requiring remedial actions by the CRAs included the following areas and related issues: 1. Independence and avoidance of conflicts of interests: ESMA has concerns that in a number of areas associated with conflicts of interest and independence, the actual failings or potential risks identified might compromise the independence of the ratings process and the quality of the credit ratings. These include: • the type of involvement of senior management in sovereign rating activities; • the independent review function’s participation in the sovereign rating process; • the research publication activities carried out by CRAs; • the involvement by certain non-rating functions (e.g. communication) in the rating process; and • the implementation of the appeal procedure. 2. Confidentiality of sovereign rating information The investigation identified deficiencies in the way confidential rating information is managed, in particular how access to information on upcoming rating actions on sovereigns is controlled. These include: • the disclosure of upcoming rating actions to an unauthorised third party; • inadequate controls in place for the circulation of rating information within the CRA(s); • the controls around the use of external communication consultants; and • inappropriate permissions and controls to secure access to rating information. 3. Timing of publication of rating actions: The investigation found that there had been instances of significant and frequent delays in the publication of sovereign ratings. ESMA also observed deficiencies in the advance notification to rated entities about upcoming rating actions. 4. Resources allocated to sovereign ratings: ESMA has concerns on the resources dedicated to sovereign ratings, in particular: • the lack of an adequate mechanism to assess the adequacy of resources; • assigning lead analyst responsibilities to junior or newly hired staff; • reliance on junior support staff; and • unclear definitions of functions and responsibilities. A number of good practices were also identified amongst the surveyed firms including analytical training programmes, practices designed to improve challenge in rating committees, and to ensure continuity in the allocation of analysts to sovereign portfolios. ESMA has required the CRAs to put in place remedial action plans to address the issues identified, and will monitor their progress against these plans as part of its on-going supervision.
05/09/2013 2013-09-03 Joint Committee Report on Risks and Vulnerabilities Press Release PDF
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29/07/2013 JC 2013/02 Joint Committee Draft Regulatory Technical Standards Press Release PDF
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EBA, EIOPA and ESMA publish RTS on the consistent application of calculation methods under the Financial Conglomerates Directive The Joint Committee of the three European Supervisory Authorities (EBA, EIOPA and ESMA) has published its draft Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) on the consistent application of the calculation methods described in the Financial Conglomerates Directive (FICOD) covering the assessment of the financial situation of credit institutions, insurance undertakings and investment firms which are part of a financial conglomerate. These RTS define the appropriate application of calculation methods for the determination of required capital at the financial conglomerate level. Their underlying principles are to eliminate multiple gearing and intra-group creation of own funds, transferability and availability of own funds and to cover deficit at financial conglomerate level having regard to definition of cross-sector capital. Based on the technical calculation methods provided in the FICOD, the RTS aim at harmonising the use of the calculation methods, by applying these principles and specifying which sectoral rules comprise sectoral own funds and solvency requirements in order to ensure a consistent approach in the calculations is applied across different financial conglomerates.   Legal basis These draft regulatory technical standards (RTS) have been developed in accordance with the mandate contained in Article 49(6) of the Regulation (EU) No 575/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 (Capital Requirements Regulation or CRR) and Article 150 of Directive 2013/36/EU (Capital Requirements Directive or CRD IV) of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 (amending Article 21a of the Directive 2002/87/EC). These Articles provide that the ESAs, through the Joint Committee, shall develop draft Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) with regard to the conditions of the application of Article 6(2) of Directive 2002/87/EC.   The Joint Committee The Joint Committee is a forum for cooperation that was established on 1st January 2011, with the goal of strengthening cooperation between the European Banking Authority (EBA), European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) and European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA), collectively known as the three European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs). Through the Joint Committee, the three ESAs cooperate regularly and closely and ensure consistency in their practices. In particular, the Joint Committee works in the areas of supervision of financial conglomerates, accounting and auditing, micro-prudential analyses of cross-sectoral developments, risks and vulnerabilities for financial stability, retail investment products and measures combating money laundering.   Documents Press Release JC 2013/02 Draft Regulatory Technical Standards JC 2013/01
10/07/2013 2013/924 ESMA launches consultation on implementation of new CRA Regulation , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published a Discussion Paper dealing with the implementation of the CRA3 Regulation, which entered into force on 20 June 2013.The Regulation, which complements the existing regulatory framework for credit rating agencies (CRAs), requires ESMA to draft Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) on:•    disclosure requirements on structured finance instruments (SFIs);•    the European Rating Platform (ERP); and•    the periodic reporting on fees charged by CRAs.ESMA is seeking views from all interested parties in order to assist in its preparation of the draft RTS to be published for consultation in early 2014.  ESMA must submit the draft RTS to the European Commission by 21 June 2014.
01/07/2013 2013/853 ESMA approves Spread Research as a credit rating agency Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has formally approved the registration of Spread Research SAS, based in France, as a credit rating agency (CRA) under Article 16 of the CRA Regulation. The registration takes effect from 1 July 2013.
17/06/2013 2013/743 ESMA clarifies boundary of CRA Regulation Press Release PDF
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07/06/2013 2013/700 ESMA approves Dagong Europe as a credit rating agency Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has formally approved the registration of Dagong Europe Credit Rating Srl (Dagong Europe), based in Italy, as a credit rating agency (CRA) under Article 16 of the CRA Regulation. The registration takes effect from 13 June 2013.
30/05/2013 2013/630 ESMA approves EIU as a credit rating agency , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has formally approved the registration of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), based in the United Kingdom, as a credit rating agency (CRA) under Article 16 of the CRA Regulation. The registration takes effect from 3 June 2013. EIU’s registration as a CRA means that its credit ratings can be used for regulatory purposes under EU legislation.
12/04/2013 2013-04-12 JC Report on Risks and Vulnerabilities in the European Union’s (EU) Financial System Press Release PDF
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  The Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities (Joint Committee) has published today its first Report on Risks and Vulnerabilities in the European Union’s (EU) Financial System. Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities calls for action on cross-sectoral risks. • First report by the Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) on cross-sectoral risks facing the EU financial system; • Key risks facing EU financial markets include weak macroeconomic outlook; low interest rate environment; risk of further fragmentation on the single market; increased reliance on collateral; the quality of financial institutions’ assets; lack of confidence in financial institutions’ balance sheet valuations and risk disclosure; loss of confidence in financial benchmarks; • The ESAs have closely monitored the situation in Cyprus as it has developed. The events will lead to losses throughout the financial sector in Cyprus. However, the risks of direct international contagion seem to be limited.
18/03/2013 2013/325 ESMA requires further improvements by CRAs , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published its second Annual Report on its supervision of credit rating agencies (CRAs) in the European Union.
23/01/2013 2013/97 ESMA sets out its 2013 CRA work programme , Press Release PDF
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