Maple Bank, a niche securitization player in Canada’s mortgage market, looks like it’s going down.
Banking regulator OSFI has taken control of the bank’s Canadian operations according to the Financial Post, which quotes OSFI Superintendent Jeremy Rudin as saying, “We are guided by our mandate, which is to protect the depositors and creditors of the Canadian branch and have taken this step to safeguard their interests.”
On top of that, CMHC has terminated Maple as an approved issuer of mortgage-backed securities (MBS). CMHC made this statement:
Effective immediately, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has suspended Maple Bank GmbH – Toronto Branch as an Approved Issuer of National Housing Act Mortgage-Backed Securities (NHA MBS). The suspension is the result of restrictions placed on the operations of Maple Bank GmbH by Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) that affect its ability to fulfill its obligations as an Approved Issuer.
CMHC provides a timely payment guarantee of interest and principal to NHA MBS investors. CMHC’s guarantee of NHA MBS issued by Maple Bank GmbH – Toronto Branch are not impacted by the suspension.
Here is a good summary from Handelsblatt about what triggered Maple’s woes → Link.
Maple Bank is probably not coming back. National Bank has already written off its 25% stake. That’s disappointing for the mortgage market because, while Maple was a small player in the MBS market, it was still a player. And in a market where MBS spreads have widened significantly in the last year, the market needs all the liquidity it can get. (MBS spreads refer to the extra yield that mortgage investors demand on top of safe government bonds.)
According to sources, Maple bought mortgages from a handful of non-bank lenders. It also provided warehouse facilities (i.e., short-term capital to fund mortgages until they’re sold to investors). Lenders would take funded mortgages, package them up, sell them to Maple and then Maple (as a former CMHC-approved issuer) would issue MBS and/or sell those mortgage pools into the Canada Mortgage Bond (CMB) program. This provided cheaper funding for lenders than simply selling their mortgage commitments to big institutional buyers.
Based on CMHC data, Maple was ranked 21st out of 82 MBS issuers in terms of market share, with $3.49 billion of MBS outstanding out of $441 billion industry-wide.
“Losing any funder is never good,” said one lender executive who preferred not to be quoted. “All of their mortgages were originated in the broker space.” That leaves big securities firms like TD Securities, RBC Dominion Securities, National Bank Financial and Merrill Lynch as the main buyers of broker-originated mortgages. “If it’s just big players left, it’s not positive for consumers,” he added, noting that less competition raises funding costs for bank challengers.
Side story: On an unrelated positive note, we hear that Laurentian Bank is now going to be a player in the securitization space. That is very welcome news for broker lenders. More from Bloomberg.
None of this should cause investors in Canada’s MBS market to lose confidence. What sunk Maple Bank was unrelated to Canada’s housing or securitization markets. CMHC is now managing its MBS to ensure investors get paid as expected. The housing agency sent CMT this statement today:
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) guarantee of NHA MBS issued by Maple Bank GmbH – Toronto Branch is not impacted by the suspension, therefore there is no impact on MBS investors. Furthermore, this suspension will have no impact on homeowners or mortgage holders.
CMHC has taken control of the NHA MBS and related mortgage cash flows and provides a timely payment guarantee of interest and principal to NHA MBS investors.
CMHC has previously had four issuer defaults in the early 1990s. No MBS payments to investors were ever missed and CMHC did not incur any losses on these previous issuer defaults.
We’re told by other sources that CMHC has never lost money by guaranteeing NHA MBS, even when issuers default. That’s thanks in part to the excess spread that’s earned between the mortgage interest (paid by borrowers) and the MBS interest (paid to investors).
“The [MBS] trades themselves are fine; but with Maple now essentially closed for business…whoever was using them will have to find alternative funding…” said one capital markets pro we spoke with. Fortunately, all lenders who relied on Maple have backup funders, we’re told.
As for small Canadian depositors, the fallout is limited. Maple’s latest annual report notes: “The Toronto branch specializes in lending businesses, in particular the acquisition of mortgage loans for securitization, and deposit taking.” According to OSFI, however, Maple Bank is a foreign bank “authorized under the Bank Act to establish branches in Canada to carry on banking business in Canada.” Foreign banks cannot generally “accept deposits of less than $150,000” in Canada.
Maple’s last report noted that its “securitization business grew significantly” through 2014. And now it’s gone; just like that.