Australian Mortgage Bond Market Reawakens After Three Month Lull

Commonwealth Bank of Australia has broken the mortgage bond drought Down Under, pricing the first new deal in more than three months.

The country’s largest lender on Friday announced that it had priced A$1.575 billion ($1.2 billion) of residential mortgage-backed securities. Excluding refinancing of individual tranches from old deals, the last new RMBS to come to the Aussie market was Firstmac Ltd.’s A$500 million offering in November. This week’s deal is the first from CBA since September, when it priced A$2 billion of notes.

While the Australian securitization market is traditionally quiet at the start of each year, global financial turmoil in recent months has further complicated fixed-income issuance and spurred a widening of credit spreads worldwide. At the same point last year the Australian RMBS market had already seen four transactions totaling A$6 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The CBA deal comes after the Australian government announced its decision to put on hold its plan to sell down its own holdings of RMBS. The Australian Office of Financial Management halted the process of auctioning off the notes back in November following weaker-than-expected sales volumes, and said last month that they would remain suspended until further notice.

Spreads Compared

The A$1.449 billion of top class notes in Friday’s placement have a weighted average life of 3.5 years and were priced to yield 140 basis points more than the bank bill swap rate, CBA said. That compares with a spread of 90 basis points for the most highly-rated notes in CBA’s September deal, although they had a shorter average life of 2.8 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Volkswagen AG also brought a transaction to the securitization market this week, pricing A$531 million of bonds backed by automotive receivables. That was Australia’s second non-mortgage asset-backed securities deal for 2016, with CNH Industrial Capital Australia having done A$350 million of notes last week.

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