While I was researching securitization of BOAT LOANS I came across the following apparently published by Holland and Knight. Several of their statements could prove helpful especially where one is confronting that law firm as an adversary. I copied some of the more relevant statements.
I also stumbled across this PowerPoint presentation from the American Securitization Forum in 2009 which is available on the Internet. Securitization101ASF2009
The major “players” in the securitization game, all of whom require legal representation to some degree, are as follows (this terminology is typical, but different terms are used; for example the “originator” is often referred to as the “issuer” or “seller”):
Originator – the entity that either generates Receivables in the ordinary course of its business, or purchases and assembles portfolios of Receivables (in that sense, not a true “originator”). Its counsel works closely with counsel to the Underwriter/Placement Agent and the Rating Agencies in structuring the transaction and preparing documents and usually gives the most significant opinions. It also retains and coordinates local counsel in the event that it is not admitted in the jurisdiction where the Originator’s principal office is located, and in situations where significant Receivables are generated and the security interests that secure the Receivables are governed by local law rather than the law of the state where the Originator is located.
Issuer – the special purpose entity, usually an owner trust (but can be another form of trust or a corporation, partnership or fund), created pursuant to a Trust Agreement between the Originator (or in a two step structure, the Intermediate SPE) and the Trustee, that issues the Securities and avoids taxation at the entity level. This can create a problem in foreign Securitizations in civil law countries where the trust concept does not exist (see discussion below under “Foreign Securitizations”).
Trustees – usually a bank or other entity authorized to act in such capacity. The Trustee, appointed pursuant to a Trust Agreement, holds the Receivables, receives payments on the Receivables and makes payments to the Securityholders. In many structures there are two Trustees. For example, in an Owner Trust structure, which is most common, the Notes, which are pure debt instruments, are issued pursuant to an Indenture between the Trust and an Indenture Trustee, and the Certificates, representing undivided interests in the Trust (although structured and treated as debt obligations), are issued by the Owner Trustee. The Issuer (the Trust) owns the Receivables and grants a security interest in the Receivables to the Indenture Trustee. Counsel to the Trustee provides the usual opinions on the Trust as an entity, the capacity of the Trustee, etc.
Investors – the ultimate purchasers of the Securities. Usually banks, insurance companies, retirement funds and other “qualified investors.” In some cases, the Securities are purchased directly from the Issuer, but more commonly the Securities are issued to the Originator or Intermediate SPE as payment for the Receivables and then sold to the Investors, or in the case of an underwriting, to the Underwriters.
Underwriters/Placement Agents – the brokers, investment banks or banks that sell or place the Securities in a public offering or private placement. The Underwriters/Placement Agents usually play the principal role in structuring the transaction, frequently seeking out Originators for Securitizations, and their counsel (or counsel for the lead Underwriter/Placement Agent) is usually, but not always, the primary document preparer, generating the offering documents (private placement memorandum or offering circular in a private placement; registration statement and prospectus in a public offering), purchase agreements, trust agreement, custodial agreement, etc. Such counsel also frequently opines on securities and tax matters.
Custodian – an entity, usually a bank, that actually holds the Receivables as agent and bailee for the Trustee or Trustees.
Rating Agencies – Moody’s, S&P, Fitch IBCA and Duff & Phelps. In Securitizations, the Rating Agencies frequently are active players that enter the game early and assist in structuring the transaction. In many instances they require structural changes, dictate some of the required opinions and mandate changes in servicing procedures.
Servicer – the entity that actually deals with the Receivables on a day to day basis, collecting the Receivables and transferring funds to accounts controlled by the Trustees. In most transactions the Originator acts as Servicer.
Backup Servicer – the entity (usually in the business of acting in such capacity, as well as a primary Servicer when the Originator does not fill that function) that takes over the event that something happens to the Servicer. Depending upon the quality of the Originator/Servicer, the need and significance of the Backup Servicer may be important. In some cases the Trustee retains the Backup Servicer to perform certain monitoring functions on a continuing basis.
Credit enhancements are required in every Securitization. The nature and amount depends on the risks of the Securitization as determined by the Rating Agencies, Underwriters/Placement Agents and Investors. They are intended to reduce the risks to the Investors and thereby increase the rating of the Securities and lower the costs to the Originator. Typical forms of credit enhancement are:
1. Over-collateralization – transferring to the Issuer, Receivables in amounts greater than required to pay the Securities if the proceeds of the Receivables were received as anticipated). The amount of over-collateralization (usually 5% to 10%) is determined by the Rating Agencies and the Underwriters/Placement Agents, and this in turn will depend upon the quality of the Receivables, other credit enhancement that may be available, the risk of the structure (such as the possible bankruptcy of the Originator/Servicer), the nature and condition of the industry in which the Receivables are generated, general economic conditions and, in the case of foreign-based Securitizations, the “Sovereign risk” (see discussion below under “Foreign Securitizations”). If all goes well, it is repurchased at the end of the transaction (see “Anatomy of a Securitization”)or returned as part of the residual interest. This form of credit enhancement is required in virtually all Securitizations.
2. Senior/subordinated structure – issuance of subordinated or secondary classes of Securities, which are lower-rated (and bear higher interest rates) and sold to other Investors or held by the Originator. In the event of problems, the higher rated (senior) Securities receive payments prior to the lower rated (subordinated) Securities. It is not uncommon for there to be a number of classes of Securities that are each subordinated to the more highly rated, resulting in a complex “waterfall” of payments of principal and interest. In the common structure described above, senior and subordinated classes of Notes would be paid, in order of priority, prior to classes of Certificates, and Certificates prior to any residual interest in the Issuer. This form of credit enhancement has become routine, but cannot be used in a grantor trust structure, which is why the owner trust has become most common.
3. Early amortization – if certain negative events occur, all payments from Receivables are applied to the more senior securities until paid. Very common.
4. Cash collateral account – the Originator deposits funds in account with Trustee to be used if proceeds from Receivables are not sufficient. Adjustable depending upon events. May be in the form of a demand “loan” by the Originator to the account. (e.s.)
5. Reserve fund – subordinated Securities retained by the Originator or Trustee and pledged for the benefit of the Trust (and, therefore, the Investors).
6. Security bond – guarantee (or wrap) of all payments due on the Securities. Issued by AAA-rated monoline insurance companies (if available).
7. Liquidity provider – in effect, a guarantee by the Originator (or its parent) or another entity of all or a portion of payments due on the Securities. (e.s.)
8. Letter of credit (for portion of amounts due on Securities) – not used much anymore because of costs. These were common in the late 1980’s when issued by Japanese banks at low rates.
Legal opinions are very important documents in every Securitization and result in considerable negotiations among counsel for the Originator, Underwriter/Placement Agent and Rating Agencies. The opinions given by the Originator’s counsel are the most extensive, frequently running 50 or more pages because of the need for reasoned opinions, as courts have not ruled upon many of the underpinnings of the Securitization structure. In addition to the usual opinions regarding due organization, good standing, corporate power, litigation, etc, others deal with the validity and priority of security interests, true sale vs. secured loan, substantive consolidation in bankruptcy, fraudulent transfer, tax consequences and compliance with securities laws and ERISA. Opinions are also given by counsel for the Trustees and frequently by counsel to the Underwriter/Placement Agent in regard to tax and securities matters. As indicated above, local counsel opinions may be required as well.
For reasons of structuring and such opinions, in addition to attorneys who are experienced in Securitizations, expertise is required in the areas of securities law, tax law, bankruptcy and the UCC. Expertise is also required in many instances in the substantive laws relating the business of the Originator and the nature of the Receivables.