3 questions to smart minds

Development of loan funds in Germany and Europe

For this 3 questions to Dr. Michael Kemmer

Fede­ral Asso­cia­tion of German Banks
Photo: Michael Kemmer
13. Octo­ber 2016

The legal requi­re­ments for the so-called direct gran­ting of loans by loan funds to compa­nies differ depen­ding on the EU member state. In the course of the Capi­tal Markets Union, the Euro­pean Commis­sion is curr­ently stri­ving to stan­dar­dize the rules and faci­li­tate lending by funds.

For this 3 ques­ti­ons to Chief Execu­tive Offi­cer and Member of the Execu­tive Board of the Asso­cia­tion of German Banks in Berlin

1. What is the current legal situa­tion for Kerdit funds (debt funds)?

In Germany, direct loans from funds were not possi­ble until recently. The way for this was paved last year initi­ally by the German Fede­ral Finan­cial Super­vi­sory Autho­rity (BaFin), which chan­ged its admi­nis­tra­tive prac­tice in an announce­ment dated May 12, 2015: Direct loans are now possi­ble under certain conditions.

In March 2016, the UCITS‑V Imple­men­ta­tion Act in Germany crea­ted a new legal basis (amend­ments to the KAGB) that allows direct lending to compa­nies under certain condi­ti­ons. The condi­ti­ons include in parti­cu­lar: Lending only through closed-end funds. The leverage of these funds is limi­ted. Loans may not be exten­ded to consu­mers. The fund must have an appro­priate risk control organization.

2. What role will banks play in this sector in the future?

The Bankers Association’s posi­tion is that the finan­cing of compe­ti­tive compa­nies and projects can only succeed with a system of effi­ci­ent banks, supple­men­ted by an effi­ci­ent capi­tal market. The inter­me­dia­tion of banks in the context of corpo­rate finan­cing plays an important and stabi­li­zing role and enables a holi­stic and lasting custo­mer rela­ti­onship, which non-banks and thus also lending funds do not fulfill in a compa­ra­ble way.

3. What would Euro­pean harmo­niza­tion in this area be aimed at?

If, as part of a Euro­pean harmo­niza­tion of the requi­re­ments for lending AIFs (AIFs are, for exam­ple, real estate funds, hedge funds and private equity funds, note), active and direct lending to compa­nies is now also permit­ted for AIFs in Germany, then these AIFs should also be adequa­tely regu­la­ted and super­vi­sed in the same step. Editor’s note), active and direct lending to compa­nies is now also permit­ted for AIFs in Germany, then these AIFs should also be adequa­tely regu­la­ted and super­vi­sed in the same step.

Inves­tors of lending funds are usually insu­rance compa­nies, pension funds and other capi­tal coll­ec­tion agen­cies. Curr­ently, the role of debt funds in corpo­rate finance is hardly rele­vant in Germany. Howe­ver, if regu­la­tion is inade­quate, it is to be expec­ted that the volume of corpo­rate loans exten­ded by loan funds may assume considera­ble propor­ti­ons in the medium term and that loan fund loans will then no longer repre­sent merely possi­ble “supple­men­tary finan­cing” but will reach a syste­mi­cally rele­vant size, inclu­ding syste­mi­cally rele­vant risks. For this reason, we see an urgent need to formu­late risk-adequate requi­re­ments for the lending acti­vi­ties of AIFs that are compa­ra­ble to the banking super­vi­sory regu­la­ti­ons and at the same time take into account the risks of loan funds. Other­wise, exis­ting finan­cial market stabi­li­zing regu­la­ti­ons would be thwarted.

The more the leverage of AIFs approa­ches the leverage ratio of banks, the more the regu­la­tory requi­re­ments should in prin­ci­ple be aligned with those of credit insti­tu­ti­ons. From a stabi­lity perspec­tive, credit risk manage­ment requi­re­ments must be appro­priate and, as is the case with banks, cover the entire credit life cycle beyond the mere gran­ting of loans.

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