Basel Committee issues final elements of the reforms to raise the quality of regulatory capital

January 13, 2011: The Basel Committee today issued minimum requirements to ensure that all classes of capital instruments fully absorb losses at the point of non-viability before taxpayers are exposed to loss.

These requirements were endorsed by the Committee’s oversight body, the Group of Governors and Heads of Supervision, at its 10 January meeting. Members agreed that under certain conditions, including a peer review process and disclosure, the proposal’s objective could be met through a statutory resolution regime if it produces equivalent outcomes to the contractual approach.

During the financial crisis a number of distressed banks were rescued by the public sector injecting funds in the form of common equity and other forms of Tier 1 capital. While this had the effect of supporting depositors it also meant that Tier 2 capital instruments (mainly subordinated debt), and in some cases Tier 1 instruments, did not absorb losses incurred by certain large internationally-active banks that would have failed had the public sector not provided support.

In order for an instrument issued by a bank to be included in Additional (ie non-common) Tier 1 or in Tier 2 capital, it must meet or exceed minimum requirements set out in the attached annex. These requirements are in addition to the criteria detailed in the Basel III capital rules that were published in December 2010.

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