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Barcelona attendance to push 3,500, regulation still focus

By Will Caiger-Smith
17 Jun 2015

Around 2,500 securitization market professionals from Europe and the rest of the world had descended on Barcelona’s international convention centre by the end of Tuesday — but while numbers are up on last year, the agenda remains firmly focused on regulation.

Overall attendance for the AFME and IMN’s joint conference is expected to reach 3,500, an increase of around 200 on 2014’s numbers. This is the second year that the conference has returned to Barcelona after a spell in London and then Brussels in the wake of the financial crisis.

“This looks bigger and healthier than last year,” said one market professional speaking with GlobalCapital on Tuesday. But while most delegates were in agreement about the upbeat sentiment, there was some level of weariness — with a flipside of indefatigable optimism — about the continued struggle against the punitive regulations imposed on the market over the past few years.

Richard Hopkin, managing director and head of fixed income at AFME, used his welcoming remarks in the conference’s main auditorium to specify the three keys to the revival of ABS in Europe: “Capital, capital, and liquidity.”

He targeted the “pretty harsh” final Basel III rules on securitization, adding that Solvency II rules were casting “an increasingly long and dark shadow” over insurance firms active in the market.

“ABS faces disproportionately high haircuts and other disproportionate treatment compared to covered bonds,” he added.

Slow progress

Sharing the stage, David Covey, head of European ABS strategy at Nomura and chair of AFME’s securitization board, said he was “optimistic” about regulatory change.

“I have been so for some time, but that optimism was based on idealistic hope, whereas now it’s based much more on written words,” he said.

However, he warned that the pace of progress was too slow.

“We’re running out of time,” he said. “How long can our industry remain relevant to the European market before [improved regulation] arrives?”

By Will Caiger-Smith
17 Jun 2015