Thursday, December 13, 2007

Counterparty Risk: CIBC and ACA

by Calculated Risk on 12/13/2007 11:48:00 AM

From Jonathan Weil at Bloomberg: CIBC's Big Subprime Secret Might Cost Billions (hat tip Justin)

CIBC last week [said some company] is insuring $3.47 billion, or about a third, of the collateralized- debt obligations it holds that are tied to U.S. subprime mortgages.

The [insurer]'s identity matters because the bank said these hedged CDOs were worth just $1.76 billion at Oct. 31, down almost half from their face amount. If the guarantor goes poof, CIBC loses its hedge on these derivative contracts. And the Toronto-based bank would have to recognize the loss, which is growing.

If ACA is the insurer, this would be bad for CIBC ... ACA Financial ... had $425.5 million of statutory capital at Sept. 30 and $1.1 billion of so-called claims-paying resources to back its guarantees -- for all its customers. That's not enough to cover the CDOs in question at CIBC.
Weil is speculating that ACA is the counterparty to CIBC, but it does seem likely.

I've also been told that on the Lehman conference call this morning, a Lehman executive said (paraphrased by source) that they "don’t have visibility into--and can’t count on--some counterparties so they have bought CDS’s to hedge that exposure."