JP Morgan Chase markets CDO with equity puts in Asia

“One of the problems with [synthetic CDOs] is whether there has been an event of default and what the recovery rate is going to be,” said Bart Broadman, Japan chairman and head of credit and rates, Asia-Pacific, at JP Morgan Chase in Tokyo. “By embedding equity derivatives into the credit structures, you can very cleanly trigger the knock-out of a particular name.”

The concept behind the product is that if there is a default on any name within the synthetic CDO, the stock price of that company will probably fall, triggering the equity put option in the structure. This resolves the controversy surrounding the definition of default and the issue of restructuring, explained Broadman. “This structure can make it easier to monitor the credit event and the outcome post-event less subject to debate, restructuring, credit committees and so on,” he said.

The CDO also offers a greater return to investors by making a relative-value play between the equity option and the credit default swaps within the structure, added Mahesh Bulchandani, JP Morgan Chase's managing director of Asian structured credit products, based in Tokyo. “If you model the volatility of the equity puts to get the implied credit spread, and compare that to the observed credit spread, you often find that the observed credit spread is actually too tight and there is potentially a relative-value trade between the equity market and the credit market,” he said. “This can be captured by including the equity put trigger into the CDO structure.” The return for the investor can be as much as double the return on a traditional synthetic CDO deal, Bulchandani added.

The structure is in the early stages of marketing and JP Morgan Chase has yet to complete a deal, but the bank is confident the product will appeal to Asian investors looking for enhanced returns, said Broadman. “The big opportunity seems to be around how to do the CDO type structure better, smarter, faster,” he added.

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