Russian banks are among the heaviest users of Irish special-purpose entities (SPE), a class of unregulated structure used to raise funds.
Securitisations – which bundle masses of mortgages, car loans, consumer or business loans into structures that can be borrowed against by banks and others – have become relatively well known since the financial crisis.
Ireland is a global centre for the industry, thanks to a clear and relatively straightforward legal regime – that controversially can include use by investors of the low-tax Section 110 company structure, and trusts with charitable status that facilitates investments to be made safe from the risk of losses.
Irish sponsors of securitisation (SPEs) are generally domestically-focused banks issuing debt secured on residential mortgages, the research found.
The Central Bank reports also show a second broad class of Irish SPEs make up a market worth €269bn. Within this non-securitisation SPE category, the main Irish users are multi-nationals with a base here and Irish-resident funds, the research found.
Russian banks accounted for 7.7pc of that market, the single biggest class of user, according to the research. Russian corporations make up almost as big a share of the market. The UK as a whole is actually a greater user of the Irish SPEs, accounting for almost 25pc of the market – mainly financial institutions that are not banks. Similarly, about 20pc of the market is made up of US entities – though again banks make up a small element of the US involvement.
Irish-resident SPEs are not regulated by the Central Bank, but it has begun research and increased reporting requirements in order to facilitate better insights on the sector.
Central Bank researchers issued a number of reports about the so-called shadow-banking industry – a term for unregulated financial corporations yesterday.
The findings included that foreign banks that use Irish SPEs are bigger and weaker than their peers – including slower growth, less profitability and lower capitalisation.
These banks also tend to have riskier loan portfolios, thinner stable sources of funding, higher costs of funding and exhibit higher levels of indebtedness.
International, cross-border players are the main users of the Irish SPEs, the research shows. The main impact on the economy here is the fees paid to Irish law firms, accountants and advisors – which added up to €273m last year.
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