On April 3, the Federal Reserve Board approved a final rule that establishes the requirements for determining when a company is “predominantly engaged in financial activities.” The requirements will be used by the Financial Stability Oversight Council when considering whether to designate a nonbank financial company as systemically important and subject to supervision by the Federal Reserve Board. Pursuant to the rule, a company is considered to be predominantly engaged in financial activities if 85 percent or more of the company’s consolidated revenues or assets are derived from or related to activities that are defined as financial in nature under the Bank Holding Company Act. In addition, the FSOC may issue recommendations for primary financial regulatory agencies to apply new or heightened standards to a financial activity or practice conducted by companies that are predominantly engaged in financial activities. The final rule largely mirrors the rule as proposed, but includes some changes. For example, final rule states that engaging in physically settled derivatives transactions generally will not be considered a financial activity. The final rule also defines the terms “significant nonbank financial company” and “significant bank holding company.” The rule will become effective on May 6, 2013.
On April 15, the Federal Reserve Board and the FDIC issued additional guidance for the first group of institutions required to submit resolution plans pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act. That group includes 11 institutions that submitted initial resolution plans last year. Based on their review of those initial plans, the regulators offer additional instruction as to what information should be included in the 2013 submissions, including more detailed information about certain potential obstacles to resolvability under the Bankruptcy Code. Given the additional request, the regulators also extended the due date for the plans from July 1, 2013 to October 1, 2013.
On June 6, the European Commission released a proposal to establish common rules for EU member country banking regulators to follow when faced with failing banks. The rules are meant to provide a more standard regulatory structure and approach to help reduce the impact of bank failures, improve market stability, and limit taxpayer risk. To achieve these goals, the Commission’s proposal would allow banks that do not pose a systemic risk to fail. Further, the proposal would shift the burden of restructuring costs for a systemically important troubled bank to its shareholders, creditors, and any employees responsible for mismanagement. Public authorities would be given new powers to (i) intervene earlier, (ii) establish in advance bank resolution plans, (iii) assume control of a failing bank if early intervention fails, and (iv) better coordinate cross-border issues raised by a failing bank. Banks, for their part, would be required to put in to place recovery plans and take certain actions if capital reserves fall below a set level, among other things. The proposals must first be considered and approved by the European Parliament and Council, and would take effect in 2018.