Zurich Weighs More Rogue-Trader Bonds to Spread Banks’ Risksby and
Zurich Insurance Group AG, Switzerland’s largest insurer, may increase its offering of insurance that helps protect banks from catastrophic losses like rogue trading by sharing risk with investors.
The first such product, which covered Credit Suisse AG, last month sold 220 million Swiss francs ($228 million) of similar notes underpinned by a policy with Zurich. That was short of its original target of 630 million francs.
The risks would be covered by a policy held by Zurich and part of it would be sold to investors as bonds. Credit Suisse sold similar notes last month, the first such product, which covered Credit Suisse AG, last month sold 220 million Swiss francs of such bonds underpinned by a policy with Zurich. That was short of its original target of 630 million francs.
“We are now exploring the possibility of offering similar solutions for other banks,” a Zurich spokesman said in an e-mailed response to questions. “This is not an off-the-shelf product and so all approaches will need to be reviewed in detail based on an individual customer’s need.”
The insurance protects banks from events such as events like rogue trading, cyber threats and accounting errors. Such dangers entered the global regulatory debate after the 1995 collapse of U.K. bank Barings Plc following a trader’s losing bets on derivatives. UBS Group AG, Switzerland’s largest lender and a Credit Suisse competitor, lost $2.3 billion on unauthorized trading by Kweku Adoboli in 2011.
“The fact that Zurich Insurance is exploring further offerings may show that there is demand for such a product,” said Sandro Kriesch, a managing partner at investment manager Twelve Capital. “There are investors who would invest in such risks and it could become a trend that operational risks will be put through to the capital market.”
Zurich retains 50 million francs of the risk related to Credit Suisse, with the rest bundled and sold to investors. Some investors who declined to buy that product said the bond wouldn’t fit into their portfolios and that the level of risk could be difficult to assess.
“I’m not sure whether all investors really know what the underlying risks behind these are,” said Daniel Bischof, an analyst with Baader Helvea in Zurich. However “everything that yields a few extra basis points is being snapped up.”
HSBC said in a note to investors that regulators may have misgivings about alternative forms of risk mitigation such as the Zurich product. Zurich said in 2013 it was planning to offer banks a way to lower the amount of capital they need to hold for operational risks such as employee misconduct.