Autumn statement to reveal more details of UK ILS ambitions

by Artemis on November 21, 2016

More information is set to be revealed about the ambitions of the UK to attract some form of insurance-linked securities (ILS) business to London this week, with the government set to include the publication of updated draft regulations in its Autumn Statement on Wednesday.

The timetable has been known for some months now, with the UK Treasury department working to get something ready for the 23rd November statement and targeting having a UK ILS regulatory framework implemented in early 2017.

But much remains unknown about the eventual form a UK ILS regulatory framework could take, whether it will go beyond just issuing proposed laws for a protected cell and special purpose reinsurance vehicle regime, or could go further and include detail of specifics such as the much discussed foreign aid catastrophe bond proposal.

Previously the UK government drafted the beginnings of an ILS regulatory framework, detailing a transformer and protected cell vehicle that would enable ILS, collateralised reinsurance or catastrophe bond type transactions to be undertaken in the country.

But discussion of what could be coming has consistently wavered from the core set of ILS regulations required to make doing ILS business possible in the UK, to something much more radical that would offer the reinsurance market and ILS investors a solid or unique reason to undertake some ILS business in the London market.

The foreign aid catastrophe bond is one unique idea that the London Market Group’s ILS committee published a paper on and would be something different London and the UK could bring to the ILS and reinsurance space.

There have also been suggestions that the UK Treasury may seek to take the concept of a reinsurance transformer vehicle further, than simply being a transactional structure, by enabling it to become a mechanism for capital to connect to risks at Lloyd’s of London. However, this is a much more radical proposal than we’re likely to see emerge on Wednesday unfortunately.

Sources who participate in the LMG’s ILS committee suggested to Artemis that we shouldn’t expect too much at this stage, with the Autumn Statement likely to include some regulatory amendments to enable protected cell or SPI type vehicles to be established and used for ILS business in the UK.

Additionally, it is understood that some guidance on the eventual tax treatment of ILS transactions undertaken in the UK is likely to be provided as part of the Autumn Statement.

Sources we’ve discussed this with believe that all we’re likely to see on Wednesday is a largely ‘lookalike’ set of ILS regulations (perhaps with a few more unique features the market has requested) and an attempt to level the tax playing field as much as is possible within the constraints of the UK market.

This will be a positive step for UK’s ILS ambitions though, as even if nothing groundbreaking is announced the regulatory framework and chance to do ILS business in the UK could prove attractive to certain sponsors or ILS fund managers, just so long as the costs and friction of taxation can be minimised.

The UK government is said to be keen to show that progress is being made, even if at this stage it is not bringing anything unique or different to the ILS market.

Problems will still face the UK in bringing ILS transactions to the country, not least the speed to market to get new structures set up. ILS market participants are now used to the rapid turnaround time of offshore insurance domiciles, where vehicles can be established sometimes in a matter of days rather than weeks or months.

The UK and London needs to find a way to make setting up ILS vehicles as quick and easy as the offshore domiciles, if it is to stand a chance of bringing standard ILS business to the country.

We still strongly believe that London’s best hope in ILS will be to bring something unique and innovative to the market, to make it impossible to consider specific types of ILS business elsewhere. While Wednesday’s announcement may not reveal anything of this kind, we understand that some who are insiders to this process continue to push hard for innovative solutions to be included.

We’ll update you when the Autumn Statement details emerge on Wednesday afternoon.

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