StanChart completes planned redemption of $1 bln shock-absorbing bond

StanChart completes planned redemption of $1 bln shock-absorbing bond

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LONDON — Standard Chartered has redeemed a $1 billion so-called additional tier one (AT1) bond in a move announced before holders of similar securities were wiped out in last month’s rescue of Credit Suisse.

The Asia and Africa-focused bank exercised its option to redeem the securities on April 2, it said in a stock exchange filing on Monday, having initially flagged its intention before the recent bout of banking sector turmoil.

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The $275 billion global market for AT1 bonds, part of bank capital buffers that insulate taxpayers from funding bailouts, was rocked by Swiss authorities’ decision on March 19 to write down $17 billion of the Credit Suisse securities.

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Jitters over the value of AT1 bonds have since sent their prices to record lows.

Banks typically redeem AT1 bonds at the earliest opportunity, analysts have said, meaning StanChart’s decision to call its bond as planned could provide some reassurance.

Issuing new AT1 debt could be very expensive for banks until the market regains more confidence, analysts have said.

StanChart did not say in its filing whether it intends to issue a replacement AT1 bond and the bank did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The bank’s CEO, Bill Winters, last month told a financial forum in Hong Kong that the Swiss decision to wipe out AT1s – taken as part of an emergency rescue of Credit Suisse by rival UBS – would have wider implications for sector regulation and how banks manage themselves.

In line with a large part of the AT1 market, other AT1 debt issued by Standard Chartered touched a record low – in a sign of the wider stress on the market – on March 24, trading at 88 cents on the dollar. The notes were trading as high as 103 cents on the dollar at the start of March. (Reporting by Iain Withers and Chiara Elisei Editing by David Goodman)

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