November 24, 2017 / 12:47 PM / 2 years ago

Regulators edge closer to deal on global bank capital rules

LONDON (Reuters) - The oversight body for global banking regulators said on Friday it will meet on Dec. 7, in the clearest sign yet that a deal on completing post-financial crisis capital rules is finally on the cards.

France has been a key holdout for completing the Basel III rules, and people familiar with the negotiations have said the oversight body would not meet unless a deal has been informally agreed.

The oversight body, known as the Group of Governors and Heads of Supervision (GHOS), is chaired by Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank.

A news conference will be held at 1600 GMT on Dec. 7 at the ECB in Frankfurt, where the GHOS meeting takes place on the same day.

GHOS called a meeting in January but was forced to postpone it after it became clear a deal could not be reached. It would not call a meeting next month if it risked a repeat embarrassment.

The rules have been drafted by the Basel Committee of banking supervisors from the world’s main financial centers.

The committee’s secretary general William Coen said last month that members were in the “last few meters of a marathon, with the finish line in sight”.

“It’s fairly clear what the result will be,” Coen said.

Banks have warned against bumping up capital requirements further, but also want completion of the rules so they can move on from the crisis.

Germany’s representative in the negotiations, Andreas Dombret, said last week that the Bundesbank and German regulator BaFin backed the latest compromise, albeit reluctantly.

This left France - which thinks the emerging compromise still sets capital demands too high - isolated and under pressure.

Asked on Friday whether the calling of a news conference should be seen as a sign a Basel deal was in the works, the governor of the Bank of France Francois Villeroy de Galhau referred reporters to remarks he made on Thursday in London. Then he said: “It is my strong wish and hope that we can reach a fair and reasonable agreement soon.”

Basel III is the world’s regulatory response to undercapitalised banks having to be bailed out by taxpayers during the financial crisis.

Much of the accord is already being applied and Basel has been trying for over a year to put final elements in place.

The compromise on these elements sets a “floor” on how much capital banks must hold, even for those who use their own internal models for calculating buffers.

Basel is expected to soften the impact with a long phase in, meaning it will not be binding until around the middle of the next decade.

Reporting by Huw Jones; Additional reporting by Leigh Thomas in PARIS; Editing by John O'Donnell and Toby Chopra

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