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Absa's bond shines in 'sub-prime' panic

By unknown | Aug 16, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Robert Laing

Robert Laing

It's hard to imagine a worse time to launch a bond of pooled home loans than amid a global banking panic sparked by similar products in the US.

Nevertheless, Absa's new Home Programme Series 1 bonds are 1,23 times oversubscribed, enabling the bank to raise R3,2billion from offers amounting to nearly R4billion.

Absa's inaugural mortgage-backed bonds are very different to the US ones responsible for the current global banking crisis, said Paul Bowes, head of group funding and liquidity management at Absa Bank.

Although this is a first for Absa, other South African mortgage providers have issued similar bonds. Unlike their US counterparts, the local bonds are not split into sub-prime and other classes. Investors are not invited to gamble on people with poor credit records who are charged high interest rates being able to pay their mortgages.

South Africa's already conservative banks have become more so because of the National Credit Act.

This contrasts with US banks that took to issuing Ninja loans - home loans for people with "no income, no job or assets" on the assumption that house prices would keep going up.

This gamble backfired when US house prices fell, preventing mortgage providers from recouping loans from defaulters by selling their properties.


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