Thursday, 14 November 2013

Omnibus II a done deal - Greens left feeling, errr, green?

So, having become bored with collapsing into their own tedium like a room-temperature flan, the Omnibus II negotiations reached an inevitably grim climax yesterday, with a deal bashed out to everyone's mutual distaste at the last possible minute - the basic details are here from the European Commission.  

Bearing in mind the volume of noise on the subject over the last 24 hours in particular, I figured I'd better pull a consolidation post together for my own benefit if nothing else!

The highlights are (apparently - no text released as yet);
  1. Transitional measures extended for 16 years
  2. Massive equivalence carve out (10 year "temporary" renewable facility)
  3. Transposition date moved to end-March 2015
  4. Matching adjustments and volatility adjustments more generous to the industry than recommended
  5. The generosity of those adjustments countered by some qualitative measures around planning and disclosure.
  • Industry - Allianz's CFO rather boldly speaks on behalf of the entire European Insurance Industry, stating the deal is "...ambitious but acceptable". Prudential's CEO thinks it is "great progress" and "a good package", while Talanx "welcome the decision very much".
  • Heavily indebted governments and companies - Burkhard Balz is happy to trumpet that "...we have also ensured that insurance companies will be able to continue to fulfil their role as long-term investors" through the lengthened transitionals and juicy adjustments. This will hopefully encourage insurers to splash some cash on long-term debt instruments and infrastructure projects where they may otherwise have stayed shorter-term.
  • EIOPA - While they were happy to simply "welcome" the agreement, Sharon Bowles emphasises that "This marks the point at which Eiopa becomes fully fledged".
  • Sharon Bowles - has surely enhanced her reputation by finally landing the most fraught European negotiation since the Abba reunion.
  • Consultancies - will surely use the "tight timescale" routine to press gang the nation's NEDs and Execs into writing one more cheque.
  • Insurance Europe didn't have much to say, other than acknowledging that the deal is not ideal, though provides a "workable base". They remain concerned about the "ambitious timetable".
  • Groupe Consultatif also reinforce their continued support.
  • The European Council apparently couldn't be bothered to send a big hitter to trumpet the big news, leaving it to one of the COREPER lads (well, an ambassador)!

The Left - while it is no surprise that Sven and the Greens were left sulking (and doesn't the boy blog well!), the extent of his rancour, whether Party line or personal, doesn't augur well for when he and the ECON crew take it through Plenary, for example noting that the deal;
  • "...[is a] flagrant violation of common market principles"
  • "...[is a] grab bag of goodies"
  • "...ignores the advice of the European Systemic Risk Board"
  • "...resulted in the EP adopting a far more industry-friendly package in self-denial of the original mandate voted by ECON "
Perhaps most bitterly, he then promises to "...personally make sure that all companies making use of the agreed privileges will be named and shamed on a website including their brands and the billions of missing capital". 

You don't want to make the Greens angry now, do you...


  1. Daniel Bougainville19 November 2013 at 17:39

    Thank you for the good summary!

    The additional qualitative measures around planning and disclosure are surely going to hurt, as qualitative reporting requirements are already very high.

    Some websites are reporting, on the other hand, that the proportionality principle will be strengthened, so that might counter it a bit... Do you happen to have any specific information on that?

    Another thing that is still not clear to me is whether the volatility adjustment in its current form will be applied only for the determination of own funds (as suggested by EIOPA) or for the SCR calculation as well (as suggested AFAIK by the council).

    Thank you for any response ;)

  2. Hi Daniel, I don't worry for the industry regarding more qualitative activity, they are the masters at justifying their approaches to their national regulators!

    No visibility of proportionality strengthening as yet - My worry is, if a more prescriptive approach on materiality/proportionality comes in, the national regulators will want/need more resource, increasing fixed supervisory costs for years to come.

    I think the Council recently tried to clarify their position on the volatility adjustment (see here, but not certain where that stands now.

  3. Daniel Bougainville22 November 2013 at 12:00

    Hi Allan,

    thanks for the quick reply. After some more research I think they indeed chose to apply the volatility adjustment to both own funds and SCR, which ought to makes it a good deal more beneficial.

    But we will probably only have real certainty when more detailed documents are relased...