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Financial support for larger firms: The COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility

26 March 2020

The COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) is a quick and cost-effective way to raise working capital for those large businesses which need it.

This is a joint HM Treasury and Bank of England (the Bank) lending facility. The facility is designed to support liquidity among those larger firms, which make a material contribution to the UK economy, helping them to bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through the purchase of short-term debt in the form of commercial paper.

This facility is one of the Government’s initiatives to support businesses, enabling them to keep operating in the face of the global economic emergency brought on by coronavirus.

The scheme provides a quick and cost-effective way to raise working capital for companies which are fundamentally strong but are experiencing severe disruption to cashflows, helping businesses across a range of sectors to pay wages and suppliers.

The CCFF will offer financing on terms comparable to those prevailing in markets in the period before the Covid-19 economic shock. It will be open to firms that can demonstrate they were in sound financial health prior to the shock. The CCFF will look through temporary impacts on firms’ balance sheets and cash flows by basing eligibility on firms’ credit ratings prior to 1 March 2020. Businesses do not need to have previously issued commercial paper.

This webpage sets out the practical steps to take in order to access the CCFF, as well as other frequently asked questions.

This Market Notice page gives more technical detail.

First steps

If you think that you are eligible for the CCFF, you will first need to liaise with your bank. If your bank does not issue commercial paper, UK Finance has provided a list of those banks that are able to assist HERE.

Then you should contact the Bank directly, to discuss eligibility and the documentation they will require, on this email address: CCFF-applications@bankofengland.co.uk

If, after speaking with your bank, you are unsure of your eligibility, contact the Bank at this email address: CCFFeligibleissuers@bankofengland.co.uk.

What is commercial paper (CP)?

CP is an unsecured, short-term debt instrument issued by a company. 

Eligible securities: The CCFF will purchase sterling-denominated commercial paper, with the following characteristics:

  • maturity of one week to twelve months;
  • where available, a minimum short-term credit rating of A-3 / P-3 / F-3 / R3 from at least one of Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, Fitch and DBRS Morningstar as at 1 March 2020;
  • issued directly into Euroclear and/or Clearstream

Non-standard features, such as extendibility or subordination, may not be approved as eligible.

Securities issued by a finance subsidiary should be guaranteed by their parent company.

Eligibility

Non-financial companies - and their finance subsidiaries - that make a material contribution to the UK economy are eligible. This would normally mean:

  • UK incorporated companies, including those with foreign-incorporated parents, with a genuine business in the UK;
  • companies with significant employment in the UK;
  • firms with their headquarters in the UK.
  • The Bank will also consider whether the company generates significant revenues in the UK, serves a large number of customers in the UK or has a number of operating sites in the UK.

Businesses will need to demonstrate that they were in sound financial health prior to 1 March 2020, allowing the Bank to look through temporary impacts on their balance sheets and cash flows from the pandemic. This means companies having a short or long-term rating of investment grade, as at 1 March 2020, or equivalent.

If a company does not have a credit rating, there is guidance as to how a company can evidence its credit status.

Publicly owned entities and partially owned entities are also not eligible.

The Facility

Operation: The Covid Corporate Financing Facility Limited (the Fund) will purchase CP during a defined period each business day.

The Fund, operated by the Bank, on behalf of HM Treasury, will purchase, at a minimum spread over reference rates, newly issued CP in the primary market via dealers and after issuance from eligible counterparties in the secondary market.

Length of Facility: The Bank’s intention is for the CCFF to operate for an initial period of 12 months, to help businesses bridge through Covid 19-related disruption to their cash flows. The Bank will provide 6 months’ notice of the withdrawal of the CCFF.

Offers to sell CP to the Fund must be received and accepted by 31 December 2020. In any event, firms are encouraged to apply as early as cash flow pressures arise. The minimum size of an individual security that the Fund will purchase from an individual participant is £1 million nominal.  The offer amount should be expressed in increments of £0.1 million nominal.

Financing of Facility: Purchases under the CCFF will be financed by central bank reserves.

Eligibility decisions will be made by the Bank’s risk management staff. Confirmation of eligibility will be provided bilaterally to the counterparty submitting the request. When the Bank confirms their eligibility before 16:00, securities will be eligible for sale to the Fund from the following business day.

Confidentiality: The names of issuers and securities purchased or eligible will not be made public. Participating companies will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Terms and conditions: the CCFF terms and conditions are available HERE

You can read our article on The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) for SMEs HERE.

You can read our article on the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) HERE.

If you have any queries regarding this matter please contact either of the authors or another member of the Corporate team

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