How Yes Bank’s relationship managers bought its AT1 bonds to retail traders

Investors in for rude shocks as Yes Bank’s perpetual debt becomes worthless (PTI)

Harish, a 65-year-old retired human useful resource supervisor, and his spouse Saroj, awoke on 6 March to a impolite shock. About a 3rd of the Delhi-based couple’s retirement kitty had vanished as Yes Bank was positioned below administration by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and its perpetual debt (AT1 bonds) turned nugatory. The couple had been bought AT1 bonds by their relationship supervisor at Yes Bank in Dwarka, Delhi.

The authorities has assured Yes Bank depositors that they won’t be penalized. However, a draft RBI decision for Yes Bank envisaged an entire write-down of the worth of AT1 bonds.

The couple’s son, Saurabh, who vetted the transactions additionally felt a heavy blow. “The rate of interest on the Yes Bank bonds at 9.5% was barely larger than the charges on fastened deposits on the time,” he mentioned. “The relationship supervisor requested my father to interrupt his fastened deposit and put the cash in these bonds as they had been yielding the next return,” he mentioned.

AT1 bonds are annual coupon bearing perpetual bonds. This implies that they don’t have any fastened maturity date. However, they do have name dates, usually on the finish of 5 years. “Banks are below no authorized obligation to train name choices and repay bondholders on the decision dates. However, available in the market, it’s understood that they’ll train name choices and pay again the cash,” mentioned a Mumbai-based wealth supervisor on situation of anonymity. Yes Bank declined to train name choices in January and March on perpetual bonds issued by it. “The financial institution pays AT1 coupons provided that it has income or reserves. The second danger is that if the banks go bust, these bondholders must take a success like fairness traders,” mentioned Joydeep Sen, founder, wiseinvestor.in.

Given the underlying dangers, AT1 bonds yield a excessive charge which seems to have been the promoting level as Indian rates of interest dipped from 2015 onwards. And given the low ticket measurement of 10 lakh, senior residents, who had been seeking to make investments their retirement corpus for higher returns however no added danger, had been the proper scapegoats.

Vas Dev Seth, an 86-year-old, was additionally bought AT1s final 12 months as a high-yield product on par with fastened deposits by way of security of capital by his Yes Bank relationship supervisor in New Delhi’s South Extension department. “I used to be assured the bond was secured and I’d get cost yearly and my principal again after 4 years,” he mentioned.

The financial institution is estimated to have issued AT1 bonds price 10,000 crore. Much of those bonds are held by institutional traders, however a small portion can be held by people. “It’s a travesty that these bonds had been bought to retail. Given the excessive danger of those bonds, they’re terribly under-priced. In truth in Europe, Basel-III AT1 bonds are usually not allowed to be bought to people except the investor move measurement and suitability exams,”mentioned Deepak Shenoy, Founder and CEO, Capital Mind.

The lack of suitability matrix and a market regime that locations the onus on the consumers to beware may end in many people kissing their financial savings goodbye. For occasion Rahul Kumar, 43, a former administration advisor who now lives a semi-retired life and indulges in his ardour for artwork and writing was very clear from the beginning that he was risk-averse. “But once I went to resume my FDs, the supervisor requested me to place my cash in these bonds,”he mentioned. “I used to be advised it was a debt bond with a lock-in of 5 years and if I needed the cash again earlier than 5 years. My supervisor assured me the principal was protected given the wealthy pedigree of the corporate. At no level did the supervisor clarify the dangers. I’ve been calling my financial institution for the previous ten days about these bonds however no person solutions,” he mentioned. Kumar hopes that RBI would rethink the proposals and see retail bondholders with care.

Many retail traders who at the moment are dealing with the warmth are responsible of believing their financial institution who bought them these bonds rather than FDs on the again of higher returns. There is now a bunch of such traders who plan to hunt RBI’s intervention on the matter.

“Even graduate textbooks inform us that fairness is subordinate to debt. But debt holders are being worn out whilst fairness holders survive. Alternatively they need to convert our bonds to fairness to permit us to profit from any future restoration. If the present RBI plan turns into remaining, the group of particular person traders who’ve come collectively about this may mount a authorized problem,” mentioned Raghav, 37, a Mumbai-based skilled whose household had invested within the bonds.

But in response to Shenoy, the choices are restricted. “Seniority issues in case of liquidation, not within the case of a decision. In truth as AT1 bond holders you agree to an entire write-off the debt. What’s worse is that whereas RBI permits it, not one of the contracts means that you can convert the debt into fairness. This makes it a poisonous product so far as retail goes,” mentioned Shenoy.

It’s vital to notice there are lots of perpetual bonds open to particular person traders. “The further yield on these bonds just isn’t commensurate with the danger they carry. They are usually not appropriate for retail traders. In conditions like this, they need to be transformed to fairness to offer some reduction to the affected bond holders,” mentioned Prakash Praharaj, founder, Max Secure Financial Planners. AT1s have traditionally shaped the majority of perpetual bond issuances. Given poor drafting of AT1 contracts, its pricing and the present market dispensation, AT1 bonds are usually not suited to retail urge for food. “It’s about time we transfer from a consumers beware market to a market the place duty lies on the sellers too. Product distributors like banks must have fiduciary responsibility and there must be fundamental suitability standards that may disqualify retail consumers who put life financial savings in such merchandise,” added Shenoy.

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