Denmark Proposes Mortgage Bond Maturity Extension to Curb Risks

The Danish government introduced plans to address refinancing risks that had threatened to disrupt the housing market and put the country’s $530 billion mortgage market on a collision course with European regulation.

The Business Ministry today proposed that maturities on adjustable-rate mortgages bonds would be extended if refinancing auctions fail or interest rates climb sharply. The Danish central bank backed the measure while mortgage banker groups said they were notified less than 24 hours ago.

“We’re intervening to secure the future of the Danish mortgage model as we know it,” Business Minister Henrik Sass Larsen said in a statement. “With this change in legislation, I expect mortgage lenders can keep the short-term adjustable-rate mortgages that very many Danes prefer.”

A requirement by the European Commission and ratings companies that banks demonstrate they can withstand a 12-month funding market freeze has put mortgage lenders under pressure to scale back issuance of one-year adjustable-rate mortgage bonds. The securities financed 40 percent of home loans in the third quarter, unchanged from the previous three months, the Association of Danish Mortgage Banks said Oct. 25.

Banks, which once issued only fixed-rate, 30-year mortgage bonds, have been exploring every avenue to wean borrowers off the loans and adjust to stable funding requirements from the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and Standard & Poor’s. That includes higher fees imposed just as the housing market shows signs of emerging from a five-year slump.

Under the proposal, maturities on loans funded by short-term bonds could be extended if auctions fail or rates jump more than 5 percentage points from the bond that’s being refinanced. The ministry expects the measure to be in place by Jan. 1.

“We were informed less than 24 hours ago,” Ane Arnth Jensen, head of the Association of Danish Mortgage Banks, whose members include Nykredit A/S, the country’s largest covered bond issuer. “This is a fair solution.

To contact the reporters on this story: Frances Schwartzkopff in Copenhagen at fschwartzko1@bloomberg.net; Peter Levring in Copenhagen at plevring1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christian Wienberg at cwienberg@bloomberg.net; Tasneem Brogger at tbrogger@bloomberg.net

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