December 20, 2018 / 9:09 PM / a month ago

U.S. bank regulators sign off on 'living wills' for foreign banks

The logo of Barclays bank is seen on glass lamps outside of a branch of the bank in the City of London financial district in London September 4, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. banking regulators announced on Thursday they had signed off on “living wills” for four foreign banks - Barclays (BARC.L), Credit Suisse (CSGN.S), Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) and UBS (UBSG.S) - detailing how they could safely be dissolved in a crisis.

The Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said the resolution plans submitted by the banks had some shortcomings, but nothing significant enough to demand stricter rules or additional restrictions on bank activity.

Specifically, the regulators said the banks needed to improve their communications between U.S. operations and foreign parents in times of stress. Separately, Credit Suisse was told it needs to improve how it estimates the liquidity needs of its U.S. intermediate holding company.

The banks must address these concerns in their next resolution plan submissions, due on July 1, 2020.

The regulators noted the firms have become smaller and less risky since the 2007-2009 financial crisis, making it easier to dissolve them if necessary.

Banks have been required to submit “living wills” as part of stricter rules established after the 2007-2009 crisis. The plans, which must be regularly reviewed by regulators, are aimed at ensuring large banks can be safely wound down without endangering the entire financial system.

The resolution plans, commonly known as living wills, require large banks to detail how they could be unwound in cases of bankruptcy without disrupting the broader financial system. If regulators do not find a plan credible, they could impose restrictions on a bank’s activities or even order it to divest.

Previously, banks with more than $50 billion in assets have been required to submit plans annually, although regulators have frequently granted extensions in the past. A new bank deregulation law enacted in 2018 directs regulators to require such plans from banks with more than $250 billion in assets, while giving regulators discretion to require plans from smaller banks of at least $100 billion in assets.

Reporting by Pete Schroeder in Washington; Editing by Diane Craft and Matthew Lewis

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