Thursday, May 17, 2012

How interest rate affects perpertuals- Genting

A reader commented that interest rates were at the historical low and that the only way is up. That i totally agree. What i am unsure of is just when. When interest rate increases, price of bonds will go down, especially so for bonds without maturity, a..k.a perpertuals like Genting. Looking at the 12 month Sibor from 1987 - 2012, the highest it has reached is 7.75% and the lowest it ever reached is right now, 0.59%.
Genting perpetual was offered at $1 par value with 5.125% coupon at the time when the 12 month Sibor was about 0.59%. This implies that the market is willing to take on the risk of holding the perpetual with an additional interest rate spread of 4.535% ( 5.125%-0.59%) over the 12 month sibor.

Assuming the market expects this spread of 4.535% forever and we keep it as constant. ( Please note that this spread changes based on the market perception of Genting's risk. Obviously, MAS is causing some negative perception!) Below is the worst case price one can expect given the different 12 month sibor rates.

Yield = 4.535% + 12-month Sibor
Genting Perpetual Price = 5.125% divided by Yield

The questions now are:
When do you think interest rates will rise?
What other investment classes available to retail investors will not be affected by changes in interest rate?
Do you think property (which is leveraged by the way) will also be affected by interest rates or not?
How about equities(Shares)? Will it be affected by interest rate too?
If a severe market crash like Lehman occurs again, which will fall more, Genting Perp or shares in general?

I feel that investing is not only about the possbilities, but also the probabilities. Given the severity of the recession in Europe and the US, how high are the probability of them raising interest rates? Read the news and realise that many countries surrounding us have also been cutting interest rates, like Australia, India, Brazil,Morocco e.t.c. Sure inflation is a concern, but which is a bigger evil, unemployment or inflation?
I for one am preparing ( and hoping) for a Lehman-like crash. If it occurs, i am pretty sure that my Genting Perps will still fall but definitely not as much as shares.

Having said the above, a sharp rise in interest rates to 7.75% is still possible. Thats why keep it as a small percentage of your portfolio.

BTW, the issue i have with MAS is that there are many much more risky ,complicated and non-transparent investments out there compared with perpetuals! Regulate those first before regulating perpetuals! Come on!


  1. I totally agree with your last paragraph. It is ridiculous that MAS issue a warning on perpetual securities when they do nothing about the latest pyramid scheme on gold investments!

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