American International Group Inc. said in August that the kinds of rating cuts that have taken place this week could permit counterparties to ask for more than $14 billion in additional collateral and also could lead to costly contract terminations.
The collateral call issue concerns AIG Financial Products Corp., a unit of AIG, New York, that has been selling credit protection arrangements based on credit default swaps.
Moody’s Investors Service, New York, now has cut its senior unsecured debt rating on AIG to A2, from Aa3, and Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, New York, has cut its long-term counterparty rating on AIG to A minus from AA minus.
Here is what AIG wrote about ratings in August, in a 10-Q report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission:
A significant portion of AIGFP’s guaranteed investment agreements (GIAs) and financial derivative transactions include provisions that require AIGFP, upon a downgrade of AIG’s long-term debt ratings, to post collateral or, with the consent of the counterparties, assign or repay its positions or arrange a substitute guarantee of its obligations by an obligor with higher debt ratings.
It is estimated that, as of the close of business on July 31, 2008, based on AIGFP’s outstanding municipal GIAs and financial derivative transactions at that date, a downgrade of AIG’s long-term senior debt ratings to ‘A1′ by Moody’s Investors Service (Moody’s) and ‘A+’ by Standard & Poor’s, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. (S&P), would permit counterparties to make additional calls for up to approximately $13.3 billion of collateral, while a downgrade to ‘A2′ by Moody’s and ‘A’ by S&P would permit counterparties to call for approximately $1.2 billion of additional collateral.
Furthermore, a downgrade of AIG’s long-term senior debt ratings to ‘A1′ by Moody’s or to the same levels by both rating agencies would permit either AIG or the counterparties to elect early termination of contracts resulting in payments of up to approximately $4.6 billion, while a downgrade to ‘A2′ by Moody’s and ‘A’ by S&P would permit either AIG or the counterparties to elect early termination of additional contracts resulting in additional payments of up to approximately $800 million. AIGFP believes that it is unlikely that certain of these counterparties would exercise their rights to elect termination of their contracts given the substantial economic benefit that such counterparties would forfeit upon termination.
The actual amount of collateral that AIGFP would be required to post to counterparties in the event of such downgrades, or the aggregate amount of payments that AIG could be required to make, depends on market conditions, the fair value of outstanding affected transactions and other factors prevailing at the time of the downgrade. Additional obligations to post collateral or the costs of assignment, repayment or alternative credit support would increase the demands on AIG’s liquidity. Further downgrades could result in requirements for substantial additional collateral, which could have a material adverse effect on AIG’s liquidity.