Template:M gen Equity Derivatives 10

From The Jolly Contrarian
Jump to navigation Jump to search
How the dividend cycle interacts with the Dividend Periods in the 2002 ISDA Equity Derivatives Definitions.

Careful: it’s (meant to be) about timing, not amount

So what is the difference betwixt a Record Amount, Paid Amount and Ex Amount? To be clear, it is not about whether you get paid, nor how much, but when. A Dividend Amount is a Dividend Amount: in each case “100%[1] of the gross cash dividend per Share”, end of the day. What this is all to do with is when a Dividend Amount is deemed to occur, which in turn is a function of which Dividend Period the trigger for the dividend falls in.

Hang on a minute. “Paid”? Is that, like, different to “declared”? On purpose?

Is Paid Amount meant to be different from Record Amount or Ex Amount, in referencing not what is declared, but what the Issuer actually physically, real-world, paid out?

On one hand, on a natural reading it seems so: Record Amount and Ex Amount specify an amount by reference to the amount “declared by the Issuer to holders of record of a Share”, whereas Paid Amount references the amount “paid by the Issuer during the relevant Dividend Period to holders of record”. On the other hand there’s no sensible reason for supposing an Equity Amount Payer would want to keep the risk of solvency of an Issuer if it pays early[2] but not have it if it pays on the payment date. Examination of the world wide web seems to offer little help.

But here’s a common-sense explanation. Remember the timing of the dividend process: first it is declared, then, a short settlement cycle before the record date the share trades “ex-div” (this is the “ex date”), and only then, two or three weeks after the record date, is the actual Dividend Payment Date. And remember this whole farrago is to determine in which Dividend Period the Dividend Amount gets paid.

Now, if you chose Ex Amount, your Cash Settlement Payment Date may well fall before the actual Dividend Payment Date, in which case it doesn’t make sense to talk about the dividend paid by the issuer, because it won’t have been paid yet. If you selected Paid Amount, the Cash Settlement Payment Date necessarily will fall after the Dividend Payment Date, so it is safe to talk about the dividend having been paid. Because it must have been — and in the disaster scenario where it hasn’t — ie, the corporate failure of the underlying issuer — the Equity Amount Payer won’t want to be paying out a Dividend Amount anyway.

But as for the very good question why would any equity derivative purport to pay out a Dividend Amount before the actual real-world payment date for the Dividend it is synthetically replicating? This is a question only ISDA’s crack drafting squad™ would be placed to answer, and they’re not talking.

Dividend clawback: if the Issuer doesn’t actually pay a declared dividend

The User’s Guide to the 2002 ISDA Equity Derivatives Definitions suggests, without saying when, that you might need a claw-back right if you don’t want to be on the hook for a declared but unpaid Dividend Amount[3]:

Dividend Recovery: If the amount an Issuer actually pays to Shareholders of record in respect of a gross cash dividend is less than the amount declared (a “Dividend Mismatch”) the Calculation Agent may calculate a payment under the Transaction to account for Dividend Mismatch and compensate for interest incurred by the party that made the relevant payments. Where the amount actually paid by the Issuer to Shareholders of record for any such dividend is paid or (scheduled) after the Termination Date, this provision will still apply even though relevant settlement date has passed. If the Issuer subsequently corrects the under-payment, the Calculation Agent may make a further adjustment.

“Parties should consider,” further it further ruminates, in typically passive-aggressive fashion, “the potential credit risk created by this provision and may wish to consider whether such amounts are adequately covered under the definition of “Exposure” under any relevant credit support document.”

But on what planet would an Equity Amount Payer want to be liable for a dividend declared but not ultimately paid by the Issuer? And why? That would be to do something equity derivatives are designed not to do.

House view: S.N.A.F.U.

The JC concludes this is simply a howler in the 2002 ISDA Equity Derivatives Definitions which ISDA hastily tried to cover up with that clawback malarkey. In any case, to be safe, reference the Paid Amount, with an amendment to cover ex dates occurring on or before the trade date, and dividend payment dates occurring after the trade date.[4] In any case, consensus amongst market professionals we have consulted is that Paid Amount does, as its drafting suggests, depend on the Issuer ponying up, so no need for that clawback language. That is where you want to be.

  1. Or whatever other percentage you agree, of course.
  2. or ever, really: that defeats the purpose of an equity derivative
  3. This is a JC bastardisation of typically grim ISDA textical contortion, needless to say.
  4. Good news! The JC has had a go for you. See Paid Amount for more.