FDIC Official Says Systemic Firms May Be Forced to Restructure

Systemically important financial institutions in the U.S. may have to simplify their business if they can’t provide viable plans for unwinding themselves in a crisis, a senior Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. official said.

“Ultimately, a SIFI could be required to restructure its operations if it cannot demonstrate it is resolvable in an orderly manner under the Bankruptcy Code,” Michael Krimminger, the FDIC’s chief counsel, will tell a House Financial Services subcommittee tomorrow at a hearing in Washington.

The Dodd-Frank Act requires firms deemed systemically important to file plans with the FDIC and the Federal Reserve, laying out how they could be resolved if they should collapse. Lawmakers gave the FDIC authority to resolve complex firms aiming to prevent a repeat of the market tumult that followed the September 2008 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

Krimminger, in prepared testimony for a Financial Institutions subcommittee hearing on whether Dodd-Frank has ended the idea that some firms are “too big to fail,” said the FDIC anticipates systemic firms will “pursue the resolution planning process in a way to meet statutory requirements.”

Companies with at least $50 billion in assets will be required to provide information on debt, funding, capital and cash flows. Firms that fail to file workable resolution plans could be subject to increased capital, leverage or liquidity requirements, and restrictions on growth or operations.

Stability Council

The Financial Stability Oversight Council, the panel of regulators that will determine which firms are systemically important, must provide clarity for market participants on what would dictate the designation and the increased oversight that comes with it, Krimminger said in his statement.

“The lack of specificity and certainty in the designation process is itself a burden on the industry and an impediment to prompt and effective implementation of the designation process,” he said. “That is why it is important that the FSOC move forward and develop some hard metrics.”

House and Senate Republicans have faulted the 10-member stability panel -- which includes the heads of the Fed, the FDIC and the U.S. Treasury Department -- for a lack of clarity in proposed rulemaking for the designation process.

To contact the reporter on this story: Phil Mattingly in Washington at pmattingly@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lawrence Roberts at lroberts13@bloomberg.net

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