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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Fed updates legal interpretations related to several regulations

Bank Regulatory Federal Issues Federal Reserve Regulation H Regulation O Regulation W Regulation Y Covered Savings Association Of Interest to Non-US Persons Bank Holding Company Act Home Owners' Loan Act

On December 30, the Federal Reserve Board added several new frequently asked questions related to legal interpretations of the Board’s regulations, including Regulations H, O, W, and Y, as well as questions concerning covered savings associations. The Fed noted that, unless specified, the FAQs are staff interpretations and have not been approved by the Board. Future revisions or supplements may be released as necessary or appropriate.

  • Regulation H: Five new FAQs discuss (i) branch closing procedures and required notices; (ii) the ability to conduct branch activities should a bank relocate its main office; (iii) when a bank may acquire a debt obligation under its general powers to lend under state law; and (iv) public welfare investments made by state member banks involving housing projects with multiple residential buildings.
  • Regulation O: A revised FAQ states that banks may not offer discounts on loan origination fees to an insider if the discount is not available to members of the public with one exception: a bank is not prohibited from “extending credit to an insider as part of a benefit or compensation program that (i) is widely available to employees of the member bank and (ii) does not give preference to any insider of the member bank over other employees of the member bank.”
  • Regulation W: Thirty-four new FAQs address various topics related to (i) provisions concerning nonaffiliate and affiliate lending and extensions of credit under the attribution rule; (ii) valuation and timing principles; (iii) revolving credit facilities and loan commitments involving nonaffiliates; (iv) asset purchases from affiliates; (v) a bank’s acquisition of another company’s shares and liabilities; and (vi) exemptions.
  • Regulation Y: Nine new FAQs discuss (i) circumstances under the Bank Holding Company Act (BHC Act) where “a bank or company that holds bank shares in a fiduciary capacity [would] be considered to have sole discretionary authority to exercise voting rights”; (ii) tying restriction qualifications, exceptions, and safe harbor; (iii) factors considered in the acquisition of bank securities or assets; (iv) trustee powers; (v) filing requirements for persons acquiring ownership or control of shares; (vi) appraisal standards for federally-related transactions; and (vii) rules for engaging in an activity that is complementary to a financial activity. The Fed notes that while these FAQs refer at times to bank holding companies, the FAQs are also applicable to foreign banking organizations that are subject to the BHC Act in the same manner as a bank holding company under the International Banking Act of 1978.
  • Covered Savings Associations: Twenty-nine new FAQs address topics related to covered savings associations (CSAs) and companies that control a CSA pursuant to Section 5A of the Home Owners’ Loan Act. Among other things, the FAQs address (i) the scope of Section 5A; (ii) a CSA’s membership in the Federal Reserve System; (iii) filing requirements; (iv) requirements applicable to a CSA or a company controlling a CSA, as well as mutual CSAs and mutual holding companies controlling a CSA; (v) transactions involving a CSA or a company controlling a CSA; and (vi) the termination of an election to operate as a CSA.