NOTE 17 – GUARANTEES
The Company has undertaken certain guarantee obligations in the ordinary course of business. The issuance of a guarantee imposes an obligation for the Company to stand ready to perform and make future payments should certain triggering events occur. Payments may be in the form of cash, financial instruments, other assets, shares of stock, or provisions of the Company’s services. The following is a discussion of the guarantees that the Company had issued at December 31, 2013. The Company has also entered into certain contracts that are similar to guarantees, but that are accounted for as derivatives as discussed in Note 16, “Derivative Financial Instruments.”
Letters of Credit
Letters of credit are conditional commitments issued by the Company, generally to guarantee the performance of a client to a third party in borrowing arrangements, such as CP, bond financing, and similar transactions. The credit risk involved in issuing letters of credit is essentially the same as that involved in extending loan facilities to clients and may be reduced by selling participations to third parties. The Company issues letters of credit that are classified as financial standby, performance standby, or commercial letters of credit.
At December 31, 2013 and 2012, the maximum potential amount of the Company’s obligation was $3.3 billion and $4.0 billion, respectively, for issued financial and performance standby letters of credit. The Company’s outstanding letters of credit generally have a term of less than one year but may extend longer. If a letter of credit is drawn upon, the Company may seek recourse through the client’s underlying obligation. If the client’s line of credit is also in default, the Company may take possession of the collateral securing the line of credit, where applicable. The Company monitors its credit exposure under standby letters of credit in the same manner as it monitors other extensions of credit in accordance with its credit policies. Some standby letters of credit are designed to be drawn upon and others are drawn upon only under circumstances of dispute or default in the underlying transaction to which the Company is not a party. In all cases, the Company holds the right to reimbursement from the applicant and may or may not also hold collateral to secure that right. An internal assessment of the PD and loss severity in the event of default is performed consistent with the methodologies used for all commercial borrowers. The management of credit risk regarding letters of credit leverages the risk rating process to focus higher visibility on the higher risk and/or higher dollar letters of credit. The associated reserve is a component of the unfunded commitments reserve recorded in other liabilities in the Consolidated Balance Sheets and included in the allowance for credit losses as disclosed in Note 7, “Allowance for Credit Losses.” Additionally, unearned fees relating to letters of credit are recorded in other liabilities. The net carrying amount of unearned fees was immaterial at December 31, 2013 and 2012.
STM, a consolidated subsidiary of the Company, originates and purchases residential mortgage loans, a portion of which are sold to outside investors in the normal course of business, through a combination of whole loan sales to GSEs, Ginnie Mae, and non-agency investors. Prior to 2008, the Company also sold loans through a limited number of Company sponsored securitizations. When mortgage loans are sold, representations and warranties regarding certain attributes of the loans sold are made to these third party purchasers. Subsequent to the sale, if a material underwriting deficiency or documentation defect is discovered, STM may be obligated to repurchase the mortgage loan or to reimburse the investor for losses incurred (make whole requests) if such deficiency or defect cannot be cured by STM within the specified period following discovery. Additionally, defects in the securitization process or breaches of underwriting and servicing representations and warranties can result in loan repurchases, as well as adversely affect the valuation of MSRs, servicing advances, or other mortgage loan-related exposures, such as OREO. These representations and warranties may extend through the life of the mortgage loan. STM’s risk of loss under its representations and warranties is largely driven by borrower payment performance since investors will perform extensive reviews of delinquent loans as a means of mitigating losses.
Loan repurchase requests generally arise from loans sold during the period from January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2013, which totaled $295.6 billion at the time of sale, consisting of $230.9 billion and $30.3 billion of agency and non-agency loans, respectively, as well as $34.4 billion of loans sold to Ginnie Mae. The composition of the remaining outstanding balance by vintage and type of buyer at December 31, 2013, is shown in the following table:
Remaining Outstanding Balance by Year of Sale
(Dollars in billions)
1 Balances based on loans currently serviced by the Company and excludes loans serviced by others and certain loans in foreclosure.
Non-agency loan sales include whole loans and loans sold in private securitization transactions. While representations and warranties have been made related to these sales, they can differ in many cases from those made in connection with loans sold to the GSEs in that non-agency loans may not be required to meet the same underwriting standards and non-agency investors may be required to demonstrate that the alleged breach was material and caused the investors' loss. Loans sold to Ginnie Mae are insured by either the FHA or VA. As servicer, we may elect to repurchase delinquent loans in accordance with Ginnie Mae guidelines; however, the loans continue to be insured. We indemnify the FHA and VA for losses related to loans not originated in accordance with their guidelines. See Note 19, "Contingencies," for additional information on current legal matters related to representations and warranties made in connection with loan sales (Residential Funding Company, LLC matter) and the HUD Investigation regarding origination practices for FHA loans.
Although the timing and volume has varied, repurchase and make whole requests have increased over the past several years. Repurchase requests from GSEs, Ginnie Mae, and non-agency investors, for all vintages, were $1.5 billion during the year ended December 31, 2013, and $1.7 billion during the years ended December 31, 2012 and 2011, respectively, and requests received since 2005 on a cumulative basis for all vintages totaled $8.5 billion. The majority of these requests were from GSEs, with a limited number of requests from non-agency investors. Repurchase requests from non-agency investors were $18 million, $22 million, and $50 million during the years ended December 31, 2013, 2012, and 2011, respectively. Additionally, loans originated during 2006 - 2008 have consistently comprised the vast majority of total repurchase requests during the past three years.
The repurchase and make whole requests received have been primarily due to alleged material breaches of representations related to compliance with the applicable underwriting standards, including borrower misrepresentation and appraisal issues. STM performs a loan by loan review of all requests and contests demands to the extent they are not considered valid.
At December 31, 2013, the original UPB of loans related to unresolved requests previously received from investors was $126 million, comprised of $122 million from the GSEs and $4 million from non-agency investors. Comparable amounts at December 31, 2012, were $655 million, comprised of $639 million from the GSEs and $16 million from non-agency investors.
During the third quarter of 2013, the Company reached agreements with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae under which they released the Company from certain existing and future repurchase obligations for loans funded by Freddie Mac between 2000 and 2008 and Fannie Mae between 2000 and 2012. While the majority of both repurchase settlements was covered by the Company's existing mortgage repurchase liability, the Company increased the reserve during 2013 by $63 million related to the settlement agreements with the GSEs. Also during 2013, the Company made payments to the GSEs in accordance with the terms of the agreements, resulting in a reserve balance of $78 million at December 31, 2013.
A significant degree of judgment is used to estimate the mortgage repurchase liability as the estimation process is inherently uncertain and subject to imprecision. The Company believes that its reserve appropriately estimates incurred losses based on its current analysis and assumptions, inclusive of the Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae settlement agreements, GSE owned loans serviced by third party servicers, loans sold to private investors, and future indemnifications. At December 31, 2013 and 2012, the Company's estimate of the liability for incurred losses related to all vintages of mortgage loans sold totaled $78 million and $632 million, respectively. However, the 2013 agreements with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac settling certain aspects of the Company's repurchase obligations preserve their right to require repurchases arising from certain types of events, and that preservation of rights can impact future losses of the Company. While the repurchase reserve includes the estimated cost of settling claims related to required repurchases, the Company's estimate of losses depends on its assumptions regarding GSE and other counterparty behavior, loan performance, home prices, and other factors. The liability is recorded in other liabilities in the Consolidated Balance Sheets, and the related repurchase provision is recognized in mortgage production related income/(loss) in the Consolidated Statements of Income. See Part I., "Item 1A. Risk Factors," in this Form 10-K for further information regarding potential additional liability.
The following table summarizes the changes in the Company’s reserve for mortgage loan repurchases:
Year Ended December 31
(Dollars in millions)
Balance at beginning of period
Balance at end of period
During the years ended December 31, 2013 and 2012, the Company repurchased or otherwise settled mortgages with original loan balances of $1.1 billion and $769 million, respectively, related to investor demands. At December 31, 2013, the carrying value of outstanding repurchased mortgage loans, net of any allowance for loan losses, was $339 million, comprised of $325 million LHFI and $14 million LHFS, respectively, of which $54 million LHFI and $14 million LHFS, were nonperforming. At December 31, 2012, the carrying value of outstanding repurchased mortgage loans, net of any allowance for loan losses, was $240 million, comprised of $209 million LHFI and $31 million LHFS, respectively, of which $70 million LHFI and $31 million LHFS, were nonperforming.
The Company normally retains servicing rights when loans are transferred. As servicer, the Company makes representations and warranties that it will service the loans in accordance with investor servicing guidelines and standards which may include (i) collection and remittance of principal and interest, (ii) administration of escrow for taxes and insurance, (iii) advancing principal, interest, taxes, insurance, and collection expenses on delinquent accounts, (iv) loss mitigation strategies including loan modifications, and (v) foreclosures. The Company recognizes a liability for contingent losses when MSRs are sold, which totaled $21 million and $12 million at December 31, 2013 and 2012.
The Company has contingent payment obligations related to certain business combination transactions. Payments are calculated using certain post-acquisition performance criteria. The potential obligation and amount recorded as a liability representing the fair value of the contingent payments was $26 million and $30 million at December 31, 2013 and 2012, respectively. If required, these contingent payments will be payable within the next three years.
The Company issues credit and debit transactions through Visa and MasterCard International. The Company is a defendant, along with Visa and MasterCard International (the “Card Associations”), as well as several other banks, in one of several antitrust lawsuits challenging the practices of the Card Associations (the “Litigation”). The Company entered into judgment and loss sharing agreements with Visa and certain other banks in order to apportion financial responsibilities arising from any potential adverse judgment or negotiated settlements related to the Litigation. Additionally, in connection with Visa's restructuring in 2007, a provision of the original Visa By-Laws, Section 2.05j, was restated in Visa's certificate of incorporation. Section 2.05j contains a general indemnification provision between a Visa member and Visa, and explicitly provides that after the closing of the restructuring, each member's indemnification obligation is limited to losses arising from its own conduct and the specifically defined Litigation.
Agreements associated with Visa's IPO have provisions that Visa will fund a litigation escrow account, established for the purpose of funding judgments in, or settlements of, the Litigation. Since inception of the escrow account, Visa has funded over $8.5 billion into the escrow account, approximately $4.1 billion of which has been paid out in Litigation settlements and another $4.4 billion which was paid into a settlement fund during 2012. If the escrow account is insufficient to cover the Litigation losses, then Visa will issue additional Class A shares (“loss shares”). The proceeds from the sale of the loss shares would then be deposited in the escrow account. The issuance of the loss shares will cause a dilution of Visa's Class B shares as a result of an adjustment to lower the conversion factor of the Class B shares to Class A shares. Visa U.S.A.'s members are responsible for any portion of the settlement or loss on the Litigation after the escrow account is depleted and the value of the Class B shares is fully-diluted. In May 2009, the Company sold its 3.2 million Class B shares to the Visa Counterparty and entered into a derivative with the Visa Counterparty. The Company received $112 million and recognized a gain of $112 million in connection with these transactions. Under the derivative, the Visa Counterparty is compensated by the Company for any decline in the conversion factor as a result of the outcome of the Litigation. Conversely, the Company is compensated by the Visa Counterparty for any increase in the conversion factor. The amount of payments made or received under the derivative is a function of the 3.2 million shares sold to the Visa Counterparty, the change in conversion rate, and Visa’s share price. The Visa Counterparty, as a result of its ownership of the Class B shares, is impacted by dilutive adjustments to the conversion factor of the Class B shares caused by the Litigation losses. The conversion factor at the inception of the derivative in May 2009 was 0.6296 and at December 31, 2013 the conversion factor was 0.4206 due to Visa’s funding of the litigation escrow account since 2009. Decreases in the conversion factor triggered payments by the Company to the Visa Counterparty of $0, $26 million and $8 million for the years ended December 31, 2013, 2012, and 2011, respectively.
During 2012, the Card Associations and defendants signed a memorandum of understanding to enter into a settlement agreement to resolve the plaintiffs' claims in the Litigation. Visa's share of the claims represents approximately $4.4 billion, which was paid from the escrow account into a settlement fund during 2012. During 2013, various members of the putative class elected to opt out of the settlement. This will result in a proportional decrease in the amount of the settlement. While the estimated fair value of the derivative liability was immaterial at December 31, 2013 and 2012, the ultimate impact to the Company could be significantly different if the settlement is not approved and/or based on the ultimate resolution with the plaintiffs that opted out of the settlement.
Tax Credit Investments Sold
SunTrust Community Capital, one of the Company's subsidiaries, previously obtained state and federal tax credits through the construction and development of affordable housing properties and continues to obtain state and federal tax credits through investments in affordable housing developments. SunTrust Community Capital or its subsidiaries are limited and/or general partners in various partnerships established for the properties. Some of the investments that generate state tax credits may be sold to outside investors. At December 31, 2013, SunTrust Community Capital has completed six sales containing guarantee provisions stating that SunTrust Community Capital will make payment to the outside investors if the tax credits become ineligible. SunTrust Community Capital also guarantees that the general partner under the transaction will perform on the delivery of the credits. The guarantees are expected to expire within a fifteen year period from inception. At December 31, 2013, the maximum potential amount that SunTrust Community Capital could be obligated to pay under these guarantees is $37 million; however, SunTrust Community Capital can seek recourse against the general partner. Additionally, SunTrust Community Capital can seek reimbursement from cash flow and residual values of the underlying affordable housing properties provided that the properties retain value. At December 31, 2013 and 2012, $1 million and $3 million, respectively, was accrued, representing the remainder of tax credits to be delivered, and were recorded in other liabilities in the Consolidated Balance Sheets.
The Company holds public deposits from various states in which it does business. Individual state laws require banks to collateralize public deposits, typically as a percentage of their public deposit balance in excess of FDIC insurance and may also require a cross-guarantee among all banks holding public deposits of the individual state. The amount of collateral required varies by state and may also vary by institution within each state, depending on the individual state's risk assessment of depository institutions. Certain of the states in which the Company holds public deposits use a pooled collateral method, whereby in the event of default of a bank holding public deposits, the collateral of the defaulting bank is liquidated to the extent necessary to recover the loss of public deposits of the defaulting bank. To the extent the collateral is insufficient, the remaining public deposit balances of the defaulting bank are recovered through an assessment of the other banks holding public deposits in that state. The maximum potential amount of future payments the Company could be required to make is dependent on a variety of factors, including the amount of public funds held by banks in the states in which the Company also holds public deposits and the amount of collateral coverage associated with any defaulting bank. Individual states appear to be monitoring this risk relative to the current economic environment and evaluating collateral requirements; therefore, the likelihood that the Company would have to perform under this guarantee is dependent on whether any banks holding public funds default as well as the adequacy of collateral coverage.
In the normal course of business, the Company enters into indemnification agreements and provides standard representations and warranties in connection with numerous transactions. These transactions include those arising from securitization activities, underwriting agreements, merger and acquisition agreements, swap clearing agreements, loan sales, contractual commitments, payment processing, sponsorship agreements, and various other business transactions or arrangements. The extent of the Company's obligations under these indemnification agreements depends upon the occurrence of future events; therefore, the Company's potential future liability under these arrangements is not determinable.
STIS and STRH, broker-dealer affiliates of the Company, use a common third-party clearing broker to clear and execute their customers' securities transactions and to hold customer accounts. Under their respective agreements, STIS and STRH agree to indemnify the clearing broker for losses that result from a customer's failure to fulfill its contractual obligations. As the clearing broker's rights to charge STIS and STRH have no maximum amount, the Company believes that the maximum potential obligation cannot be estimated. However, to mitigate exposure, the affiliate may seek recourse from the customer through cash or securities held in the defaulting customers' account. For the years ended December 31, 2013, 2012, and 2011, STIS and STRH experienced minimal net losses as a result of the indemnity. The clearing agreements expire in May 2015 for both STIS and STRH.