Commitments, Contingencies and Guarantees
|6 Months Ended|
Jun. 30, 2013
|Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]|
|Commitments, Contingencies and Guarantees||
Litigation and Regulatory Matters
The following supplements the disclosure in Note 14 to the Consolidated Financial Statements in Merrill Lynch's 2012 Annual Report and in Note 14 to the Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements of Merrill Lynch's Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarterly period ended March 31, 2013 (collectively, the "prior commitments and contingencies disclosure").
In the ordinary course of business, Merrill Lynch and its subsidiaries are routinely defendants in, or party to, many pending and threatened legal actions and proceedings, including actions brought on behalf of various classes of claimants. These actions and proceedings are generally based on alleged violations of securities, employment, contract and other laws. In some of these actions and proceedings, claims for substantial monetary damages are asserted against Merrill Lynch and its subsidiaries.
In the ordinary course of business, Merrill Lynch and its subsidiaries are also subject to regulatory examinations, information gathering requests, inquiries, investigations, threatened legal actions and proceedings. Certain subsidiaries of Merrill Lynch are registered broker/dealers or investment advisors and are subject to regulation by the SEC, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), the U.K.'s Prudential Regulatory Authority (the "PRA") and Financial Conduct Authority (the "FCA"), the European Commission (the "Commission"), and other domestic, international, and state securities regulators. In connection with formal and informal inquiries by those agencies, such subsidiaries receive numerous requests, subpoenas and orders for documents, testimony and information in connection with various aspects of their regulated activities.
In view of the inherent difficulty of predicting the outcome of such litigation and regulatory matters, particularly where the claimants seek very large or indeterminate damages or where the matters present novel legal theories or involve a large number of parties, Merrill Lynch generally cannot predict what the eventual outcome of the pending matters will be, what the timing of the ultimate resolution of these matters will be, or what the eventual loss, fines or penalties related to each pending matter may be.
In accordance with applicable accounting guidance, Merrill Lynch establishes an accrued liability for litigation and regulatory matters when those matters present loss contingencies that are both probable and estimable. In such cases, there may be an exposure to loss in excess of any amounts accrued. When a loss contingency is not both probable and estimable, Merrill Lynch does not establish an accrued liability. As a litigation or regulatory matter develops, Merrill Lynch, in conjunction with any outside counsel handling the matter, evaluates on an ongoing basis whether such matter presents a loss contingency that is probable and estimable. If, at the time of evaluation, the loss contingency related to a litigation or regulatory matter is not both probable and estimable, the matter will continue to be monitored for further developments that would make such loss contingency both probable and estimable. Once the loss contingency related to a litigation or regulatory matter is deemed to be both probable and estimable, Merrill Lynch will establish an accrued liability with respect to such loss contingency and record a corresponding amount of litigation-related expense. Merrill Lynch continues to monitor the matter for further developments that could affect the amount of the accrued liability that has been previously established. Excluding expenses of internal or external legal service providers, litigation-related expenses of approximately $53 million and $150 million were recognized for the three and six months ended June 30, 2013, as compared with approximately $13 million and $17 million for the same periods in 2012.
For a limited number of the matters disclosed in this Note, and in the prior commitments and contingencies disclosure, for which a loss is probable or reasonably possible in future periods, whether in excess of a related accrued liability or where there is no accrued liability, Merrill Lynch is able to estimate a range of possible loss. In determining whether it is possible to provide an estimate of loss or range of possible loss, Merrill Lynch reviews and evaluates its material litigation and regulatory matters on an ongoing basis, in conjunction with any outside counsel handling the matter, in light of potentially relevant factual and legal developments. These may include information learned through the discovery process, rulings on dispositive motions, settlement discussions, and other rulings by courts, arbitrators or others. In cases in which Merrill Lynch possesses sufficient appropriate information to develop an estimate of loss or range of possible loss, that estimate is aggregated and disclosed below. There may be other disclosed matters for which a loss is probable or reasonably possible but such an estimate may not be possible. For those matters where an estimate is possible, management currently estimates the aggregate range of possible loss is $0 to $610 million in excess of the accrued liability (if any) related to those matters. This estimated range of possible loss is based upon currently available information and is subject to significant judgment and a variety of assumptions, and known and unknown uncertainties. The matters underlying the estimated range will change from time to time, and actual results may vary significantly from the current estimate. Those matters for which an estimate is not possible are not included within this estimated range. Therefore, this estimated range of possible loss represents what Merrill Lynch believes to be an estimate of possible loss only for certain matters meeting these criteria. It does not represent Merrill Lynch's maximum loss exposure. Information is provided below, or in the prior commitments and contingencies disclosure, regarding the nature of all of these contingencies and, where specified, the amount of the claim associated with these loss contingencies. Based on current knowledge, management does not believe that loss contingencies arising from pending matters, including the matters described herein and in the prior commitments and contingencies disclosure, will have a material adverse effect on the consolidated financial position or liquidity of Merrill Lynch. However, in light of the inherent uncertainties involved in these matters, some of which are beyond Merrill Lynch's control, and the very large or indeterminate damages sought in some of these matters, an adverse outcome in one or more of these matters could be material to Merrill Lynch's results of operations or cash flows for any particular reporting period.
On April 16, 2012, Ambac Assurance Corp. and the Segregated Account of Ambac Assurance Corp. (together, "Ambac") sued First Franklin Financial Corp., Bank of America, N.A., MLPF&S, Merrill Lynch Mortgage Lending, Inc., and Merrill Lynch Mortgage Investors, Inc. in New York Supreme Court, New York County. Plaintiffs' claims relate to guaranty insurance Ambac provided on a First Franklin securitization (Franklin Mortgage Loan Trust, Series 2007-FFC). The securitization was sponsored by a Merrill Lynch entity, and certain certificates in the securitization were insured by Ambac. The complaint alleges that defendants breached representations and warranties concerning the origination of the underlying mortgage loans and asserts claims for fraudulent inducement, breach of contract and indemnification. The complaint does not specify the amount of damages sought.
Defendants moved to dismiss the Complaint on July 13, 2012. On July 19, 2013, the court denied defendants' motion to dismiss Ambac's contract and fraud causes of action. In addition, the court denied defendants' motion to dismiss Ambac's claims for attorneys' fees and punitive damages. The court also dismissed Ambac's indemnification cause of action.
European Commission - Credit Default Swaps Antitrust Investigation
On July 1, 2013, the Commission announced that it had addressed a Statement of Objections (“SO”) to Banc of America Securities LLC (a predecessor to MLPF&S), Bank of America and a related entity (together, the “Bank of America Entities”); a number of other financial institutions; Markit Group Limited; and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (together, the “Parties”). The SO sets forth the Commission's preliminary conclusion that the Parties infringed EU competition law by participating in alleged collusion to prevent exchange trading of credit default swaps and futures. According to the SO, the conduct of the Bank of America Entities took place between August 2007 and April 2009. As part of the Commission's procedures, the Parties will be given the opportunity to review the evidence in the investigative file, respond to the Commission's preliminary conclusions, and request a hearing before the Commission. If the Commission is satisfied that its preliminary conclusions are proved, the Commission has stated that it intends to impose a fine and require appropriate remedial measures. However, given the early stage of this matter it is not possible to estimate the amount of any fine or what remedial measures may be required.
In re Bank of America Securities, Derivative and Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) Litigation
Consolidated Securities Class Action
Certain members of the securities class in the Consolidated Securities Class Action have appealed the district court's final approval of the settlement to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
"Good Reason" Litigation
On April 26, 2013, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted final approval to the settlement in Chambers, et al. v. Merrill Lynch & Co., et al.
Mortgage-Backed Securities ("MBS") Litigation
Merrill Lynch entities and their affiliates have been named as defendants in a number of cases relating to their various roles as issuer, originator, seller, depositor, sponsor, underwriter and/or controlling entity in MBS offerings, pursuant to which the MBS investors were entitled to a portion of the cash flow from the underlying pools of mortgages. These cases generally include actions by individual MBS purchasers. Although the allegations vary by lawsuit, these cases generally allege that the registration statements, prospectuses and prospectus supplements for securities issued by securitization trusts contained material misrepresentations and omissions, in violation of Sections 11, 12 and/or 15 of the Securities Act of 1933, state securities laws and other state statutory and/or common laws.
These cases generally involve allegations of false and misleading statements regarding (i) the process by which the properties that served as collateral for the mortgage loans underlying the MBS were appraised; (ii) the percentage of equity that mortgage borrowers had in their homes; (iii) the borrowers' ability to repay their mortgage loans; (iv) the underwriting practices by which those mortgage loans were originated; (v) the ratings given to the different tranches of MBS by rating agencies; and (vi) the validity of each issuing trusts' title to the mortgage loans comprising the pool for the securitization (collectively, “MBS Claims”). Plaintiffs in these cases generally seek unspecified compensatory damages, unspecified costs and legal fees and, in some instances, seek rescission.
Prudential Insurance Litigation
On March 14, 2013, The Prudential Insurance Company of America and certain of its affiliates (collectively “Prudential”) filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, in a case entitled Prudential Insurance Company of America, et al. v. Bank of America, N.A., et al. Prudential has named, among others, Merrill Lynch and a number of its related entities as defendants. Prudential's complaint asserts certain MBS Claims pertaining to 54 MBS offerings in which Prudential alleges that it purchased securities between 2004 and 2007. Prudential seeks, among other relief, compensatory damages, rescission or a rescissory measure of damages, treble damages, punitive damages, and other unspecified relief.
Regulatory and Governmental Investigations
Merrill Lynch has received a number of subpoenas and other requests for information from regulators and governmental authorities regarding MBS and other mortgage-related matters, including inquiries, investigations and potential proceedings related to a number of transactions involving Merrill Lynch's underwriting and issuance of MBS and its participation in certain CDO offerings. These inquiries and investigations include, among others, an investigation by the SEC related to Merrill Lynch's risk control, valuation, structuring, marketing and purchase of CDOs, and investigations by the Department of Justice (the "DOJ"), the SEC, and the New York State Attorney General (the "NYAG") concerning the purchase, securitization and underwriting of mortgage loans and RMBS. Merrill Lynch has provided documents and testimony and continues to cooperate fully with these inquiries and investigations.
The staff of the DOJ has advised that it intends to file civil charges against Bank of America Securities LLC (a predecessor to MLPF&S) and other Bank of America entities arising from one or two jumbo prime securitizations. The staff of the SEC has advised that they intend to recommend civil charges concerning one of those securitizations. The staff of the NYAG has advised that they intend to recommend filing an action against Merrill Lynch arising from their RMBS investigation. In addition, the staff of the SEC has advised that it is considering recommending civil charges against Merrill Lynch arising from its CDO investigation. Merrill Lynch has been in active discussions with senior staff of each government entity in connection with the respective investigations and to explain why the threatened civil charges are not appropriate.
At June 30, 2013, Merrill Lynch’s commitments had the following expirations:
Merrill Lynch enters into commitments to extend credit, predominantly at variable interest rates, in connection with corporate finance, corporate and institutional transactions and asset-based lending transactions. Clients may also be extended loans or lines of credit collateralized by first and second mortgages on real estate, certain liquid assets of small businesses, or securities. These commitments usually have a fixed expiration date and are contingent on certain contractual conditions that may require payment of a fee by the counterparty. Once commitments are drawn upon, Merrill Lynch may require the counterparty to post collateral depending upon creditworthiness and general market conditions. See Note 10 for additional information.
Commitments to extend credit are outstanding as of the date the commitment letter is issued and are comprised of closed and contingent commitments. Closed commitments represent the unfunded portion of existing commitments available for draw down. Contingent commitments are contingent on the borrower fulfilling certain conditions or upon a particular event, such as an acquisition. A portion of these contingent commitments may be syndicated among other lenders or the counterparty may replace the commitment with capital markets funding.
The contractual amounts of these commitments represent the amounts at risk should the contract be fully drawn upon, the client defaults, and the value of the existing collateral becomes worthless. The total amount of outstanding commitments may not represent future cash requirements, as commitments may expire without being drawn.
For lending commitments where the loan will be classified as held for sale upon funding, liabilities associated with unfunded commitments are calculated at the lower of cost or fair value, capturing declines in the fair value of the respective credit risk. For loan commitments where the loan will be classified as held for investment upon funding, liabilities are calculated considering both market and historical loss rates. Loan commitments either held by entities that apply the Broker-Dealer Guide or for which the fair value option was elected are accounted for at fair value.
Purchasing and Other Commitments
At June 30, 2013, Merrill Lynch had commitments to purchase loans of $2.0 billion, which, upon settlement of the commitment, will be included in trading assets, loans held for investment or loans held for sale. Such commitments totaled $1.3 billion at December 31, 2012. Merrill Lynch has also entered into agreements with providers of market data, communications, systems consulting, and other office-related services. At June 30, 2013 and December 31, 2012, minimum fee commitments over the remaining life of these agreements totaled $1.1 billion and $1.2 billion, respectively. Other purchasing commitments amounted to $0.2 billion and $0.8 billion at June 30, 2013 and December 31, 2012, respectively. In addition, Merrill Lynch had commitments to purchase partnership interests, primarily related to private equity and principal investing activities, at both June 30, 2013 and December 31, 2012 of $0.1 billion.
In the normal course of business, Merrill Lynch enters into commitments for underwriting transactions. Settlement of these transactions as of June 30, 2013 would not have a material effect on the Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheet of Merrill Lynch.
In connection with trading activities, Merrill Lynch enters into commitments to enter into resale and securities borrowing and also repurchase and securities lending agreements.
Merrill Lynch has entered into various non-cancelable long-term lease agreements for premises that expire through 2028. Merrill Lynch has also entered into various non-cancelable short-term lease agreements, which are primarily commitments of less than one year under equipment leases.
Merrill Lynch issues various guarantees to counterparties in connection with certain transactions. Merrill Lynch’s guarantee arrangements and their expiration at June 30, 2013 are summarized as follows (see Note 6 for information related to derivative financial instruments within the scope of Guarantees Accounting):
Standby Liquidity Facilities
Standby liquidity facilities are primarily comprised of liquidity facilities provided to certain unconsolidated municipal bond securitization VIEs. In these arrangements, Merrill Lynch is required to fund these standby liquidity facilities if certain contingent events take place (e.g., a failed remarketing) and in certain cases if the fair value of the assets held by the VIE declines below the stated amount of the liquidity obligation. The potential exposure under the facilities is mitigated by economic hedges and/or other contractual arrangements entered into by Merrill Lynch. Based upon historical activity, it is considered remote that future payments would need to be made under these guarantees.
See Note 9 for further information.
Residual Value Guarantees
At June 30, 2013, residual value guarantees of $320 million consist of amounts associated with certain power plant facilities. Payments under these guarantees would only be required if the fair value of such assets declined below their guaranteed value. As of June 30, 2013, no payments have been made under these guarantees and the carrying value of the associated liabilities was not material, as (i) Merrill Lynch believes that the estimated fair value of such assets was in excess of their guaranteed value and/or (ii) there is a very remote risk of future payment pursuant to the remaining contractual provisions.
Standby Letters of Credit
At June 30, 2013, Merrill Lynch provided guarantees to certain counterparties in the form of standby letters of credit in the amount of $0.4 billion. Payment risk is evaluated based upon historical payment activity.
Representations and Warranties
In prior years, Merrill Lynch and certain of its subsidiaries, including First Franklin Financial Corporation ("First Franklin"), sold pools of first-lien residential mortgage loans and home equity loans as private-label securitizations (in a limited number of these securitizations, monolines insured all or some of the securities) or in the form of whole loans. Most of the loans sold in the form of whole loans were subsequently pooled into private-label securitizations sponsored by the third-party buyer of the whole loans. In addition, Merrill Lynch and First Franklin securitized first-lien residential mortgage loans generally in the form of mortgage-backed securities guaranteed by the government sponsored enterprises (the "GSEs"). In connection with these transactions, Merrill Lynch made various representations and warranties. These representations and warranties, as set forth in the agreements, related to, among other things, the ownership of the loan, the validity of the lien securing the loan, the absence of delinquent taxes or liens against the property securing the loan, the process used to select the loan for inclusion in a transaction, the loan's compliance with any applicable loan criteria, including underwriting standards, and the loan's compliance with applicable federal, state and local laws. Breaches of these representations and warranties may result in the requirement to repurchase mortgage loans or to otherwise make whole or provide other remedies to the GSEs, whole-loan investors, securitization trusts or monoline insurers (collectively, “repurchases”). In all such cases, Merrill Lynch would be exposed to any credit loss on the repurchased mortgage loans after accounting for any mortgage insurance or mortgage guarantee payments that it may receive.
Subject to the requirements and limitations of the applicable sales and securitization agreements, these representations and warranties can be enforced by the GSEs, the whole-loan investor, the securitization trustee, or others as governed by the applicable agreement or, in a limited number of first-lien and home equity securitizations where monoline insurers have insured all or some of the securities issued, by the monoline insurer, where the contract so provides. In the case of private-label securitizations, the applicable agreements may permit investors, which may include the GSEs, with contractually sufficient holdings to direct or influence action by the securitization trustee. In the case of loans sold to parties other than the GSEs, the contractual liability to repurchase typically arises only if there is a breach of the representations and warranties that materially and adversely affects the interest of the investor, or investors, or of the monoline insurer (as applicable) in the loan. Contracts with the GSEs do not contain equivalent language. Merrill Lynch believes that the longer a loan performs prior to default, the less likely it is that an alleged underwriting breach of representations and warranties would have a material impact on the loan's performance.
Merrill Lynch's credit loss would be reduced by any recourse it may have to originators (e.g., correspondents) that, in turn, had sold such loans to Merrill Lynch based upon its agreements with these originators. When a loan is originated by a correspondent or other third party, Merrill Lynch typically has the right to seek a recovery of related repurchase losses from that originator. Many of the correspondent originators of loans in 2004 through 2008 are no longer in business, or are in a weakened financial condition, and Merrill Lynch's ability to recover on valid claims is therefore impacted, or eliminated accordingly.
The fair value of the obligations to be absorbed under the representations and warranties provided is recorded as an accrued liability when the loans are sold. This liability for probable losses is updated by adjusting the representations and warranties provision in Non-interest expenses on the Condensed Consolidated Statements of Earnings (Loss). This is done throughout the life of the loans, as necessary, when additional relevant information becomes available.
The estimate of the liability for representations and warranties exposures, and the corresponding estimated range of possible loss, is based upon currently available information, significant judgment, and a number of factors, including those discussed in "Liability for Representations and Warranties" in this Note, that are subject to change. Changes to any one of these factors could significantly impact the estimate of the liability and could have a material adverse impact on Merrill Lynch's results of operations for any particular period. Given that these factors vary by counterparty, Merrill Lynch analyzes representations and warranties obligations based on the specific counterparty, or type of counterparty, with whom the sale was made.
Merrill Lynch has vigorously contested any request for repurchase when it concludes that a valid basis for repurchase does not exist and will continue to do so in the future. Merrill Lynch may reach settlements in the future if opportunities arise on terms it believes to be advantageous. With regard to Bank of America's settlement with The Bank of New York Mellon as trustee (the “BNY Mellon Settlement”), the court approval hearing began on June 3, 2013 in the New York Supreme Court, New York County, and additional hearing days are currently scheduled in September 2013. Although Bank of America and Merrill Lynch are not parties to the proceeding, certain of Bank of America's rights and obligations under the settlement agreement are conditioned on final court approval of the settlement. For further information on the BNY Mellon Settlement, see Note 14 to the Consolidated Financial Statements in Merrill Lynch's 2012 Annual Report.
Unresolved Repurchase Claims
Unresolved representations and warranties repurchase claims represent the notional amount of repurchase claims made by counterparties, typically the outstanding principal balance or the unpaid principal balance at the time of default. In the case of first-lien mortgages, this amount is significantly greater than the expected loss amount due to the benefit of collateral and, in some cases, mortgage insurance or mortgage guarantee payments. Claims received from a counterparty remain outstanding until the underlying loan is repurchased, the claim is rescinded by the counterparty, or the claim is otherwise resolved.
The notional amount of unresolved claims from private-label securitization trustees, whole-loan investors and others totaled $7.2 billion at June 30, 2013 compared with $5.8 billion at December 31, 2012. The increase in the notional amount of unresolved claims is primarily due to continued submissions of claims by private-label securitization trustees, claim quality and, therefore, claims resolution, and the lack of an established process to resolve disputes related to these claims. Merrill Lynch anticipated an increase in aggregate non-GSE claims at the time of the BNY Mellon Settlement in June 2011, and such increase in aggregate non-GSE claims was taken into consideration in developing the increase in Merrill Lynch's representations and warranties liability at that time. Merrill Lynch expects unresolved repurchase claims related to private-label securitizations to continue to increase as claims continue to be submitted by private-label securitization trustees, and there is not an established process for the ultimate resolution of claims on which there is a disagreement.
The table below presents unresolved representations and warranties claims by counterparty at June 30, 2013 and December 31, 2012. The unresolved repurchase claims include only claims where Merrill Lynch believes that the counterparty has a basis to submit claims. During the three months ended June 30, 2013, Merrill Lynch received $641 million of new repurchase claims, which consisted of approximately $613 million from private-label securitization trustees and $28 million from GSEs.
Of the $7.4 billion of total unresolved repurchase claims as of June 30, 2013, Merrill Lynch believes that for $7.1 billion, a valid defect has not been identified which would constitute an actionable breach of representations and warranties. The remaining $0.3 billion of claims are in the process of review. When a claim has been denied and there has not been communication with the counterparty for six months, Merrill Lynch views these claims as inactive; however, they remain in the unresolved repurchase claims balance until resolution.
In addition to, and not included in, the total unresolved repurchase claims above, there are $1.2 billion of repurchase demands from a master servicer where Merrill Lynch believes the claimant has not satisfied the contractual thresholds to direct the securitization trustee to take action and/or that these demands are otherwise procedurally or substantively invalid. Merrill Lynch does not believe the $1.2 billion of demands received represents valid repurchase claims, and therefore it is not possible to predict the resolution with respect to such demands.
As presented in the table below, during the three and six months ended June 30, 2013, Merrill Lynch paid $70 million and $91 million to resolve $71 million and $87 million, respectively, of repurchase claims through repurchase or reimbursement to investors or securitization trusts for losses they incurred, resulting in a loss on the related loans at the time of repurchase or reimbursement of $61 million and $79 million, respectively. During the three and six months ended June 30, 2012, Merrill Lynch paid $18 million and $29 million to resolve $20 million and $31 million, respectively, of repurchase claims through repurchase or reimbursement to investors or securitization trusts for losses they incurred, resulting in a loss on the related loans at the time of repurchase or reimbursement of $12 million and $23 million, respectively.
(1) Represents unpaid principal balance.
Liability for Representations and Warranties
The liability for representations and warranties is included in Interest and other payables on the Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheets, and the related provision is included in Non-interest expenses on the Condensed Consolidated Statements of Earnings (Loss). The liability for representations and warranties is established when those obligations are both probable and reasonably estimable.
Merrill Lynch's estimated liability at June 30, 2013 for representations and warranties exposures and the corresponding range of possible loss considers, and is necessarily dependent on, and limited by, a number of factors, including, depending on the counterparty, actual defaults, projected future defaults, historical loss experience, estimated home prices, other economic conditions, estimated probability that a repurchase claim will be received, including consideration of whether presentation thresholds will be met, number of payments made by the borrower prior to default and estimated probability that a loan will be required to be repurchased as well as other relevant facts and circumstances, such as bulk settlements, including those of its affiliates, and identity of the counterparty or type of counterparty, as Merrill Lynch believes appropriate.
Additional factors that impact the non-GSE representations and warranties liability and the portion of the estimated range of possible loss corresponding to non-GSE representations and warranties exposures include: (1) contractual material adverse effect requirements; (2) the representations and warranties provided; and (3) the requirement to meet certain presentation thresholds. For information on these factors, see Note 14 to the Consolidated Financial Statements included in Merrill Lynch's 2012 Annual Report.
Although Merrill Lynch continues to believe that presentation thresholds are a factor in the determination of probable loss, given the BNY Mellon Settlement, the estimated range of possible loss assumes that the presentation threshold can be met for all of the non-GSE securitization transactions. Claimants have come forward and Merrill Lynch believes it is probable that other claimants in certain types of securitizations may continue to come forward with claims that meet the requirements of the terms of the securitizations.
The table below presents a rollforward of the liability for representations and warranties and includes the provisions for representation and warranties exposure recorded in the three and six months ended June 30, 2013 and June 30, 2012.
The estimate of the liability for representations and warranties is based on currently available information, significant judgment and a number of other factors that are subject to change. Changes to any one of these factors could significantly impact the estimate of the liability and could have a material adverse impact on Merrill Lynch's results of operations for any particular period.
Estimated Range of Possible Loss
The representations and warranties liability represents Merrill Lynch's best estimate of probable incurred losses as of June 30, 2013. However, it is reasonably possible that future representations and warranties losses may occur in excess of the amounts recorded for these exposures. In addition, the BNY Mellon Settlement did not provide sufficient experience related to certain private-label securitizations sponsored by whole-loan investors. As it relates to certain private-label securitizations sponsored by whole-loan investors and certain whole loan sales, it is not possible to determine whether a loss has occurred or is probable and, therefore, no representations and warranties liability has been recorded in connection with these transactions.
Merrill Lynch currently estimates that the range of possible loss for all representations and warranties exposures, consisting primarily of non-GSE exposures, could be up to $1.1 billion over accruals at June 30, 2013, which remains the same as reported at March 31, 2013. This estimated range of possible loss related to representations and warranties exposures does not represent a probable loss and is based on currently available information, significant judgment, and a number of assumptions that are subject to change. Merrill Lynch's estimated range of possible loss related to representations and warranties exposures does not include possible losses related to monoline insurers.
Future provisions and/or ranges of possible loss for representations and warranties exposures may be significantly impacted if actual experiences are different from Merrill Lynch's assumptions in its predictive models, including, without limitation, those regarding the ultimate resolution of the BNY Mellon Settlement, estimated repurchase rates, economic conditions, estimated home prices, consumer and counterparty behavior, and a variety of other judgmental factors. Adverse developments with respect to one or more of the assumptions underlying the liability for representations and warranties and the corresponding estimated range of possible loss could result in significant increases to future provisions and/or this estimated range of possible loss. For example, an appellate court, in the context of claims brought by a monoline insurer, disagreed with the interpretation of an affiliate of Merrill Lynch that a loan must be in default in order to satisfy the underlying agreements' requirement that a breach have a material and adverse effect. If that decision is extended to non-monoline contexts, it could significantly impact the provision and/or Merrill Lynch's estimated range of possible loss.
Additionally, if court rulings related to monoline litigation, including one related to an affiliate of Merrill Lynch, that have allowed sampling of loan files instead of requiring a loan-by-loan review to determine if a representations and warranties breach has occurred, are followed generally by the courts in future monoline litigation, private-label securitization counterparties may view litigation as a more attractive alternative as compared to a loan-by-loan review. Finally, although Merrill Lynch believes that the representations and warranties typically given in non-GSE transactions are less rigorous and actionable than those given in GSE transactions, Merrill Lynch does not have significant experience resolving loan-level claims in non-GSE transactions to measure the impact of these differences on the probability that a loan will be required to be repurchased.
The liability for representations and warranties exposures and the corresponding estimated range of possible loss for these representations and warranties exposures do not include any losses related to litigation matters disclosed herein or in Note 14 to the Consolidated Financial Statements included in our 2012 Annual Report, nor do they include any potential securities law or fraud claims or potential indemnity or other claims against Merrill Lynch. Merrill Lynch is not able to reasonably estimate the amount of any possible loss with respect to any such securities law, fraud or other claims against Merrill Lynch (except to the extent reflected in the estimated range of possible loss for litigation and regulatory matters disclosed herein); however, such loss could be material.
Whole Loan Sales and Private-label Securitizations Experience
The majority of repurchase claims that Merrill Lynch has received are from private-label securitization trustees or whole-loan investors on loans sold by ML & Co.'s subsidiary, First Franklin. Merrill Lynch provided representations and warranties, and the whole-loan investors may retain those rights even when the loans were aggregated with other collateral into private-label securitizations sponsored by the whole-loan investors. Merrill Lynch reviews properly presented repurchase claims for these whole loans on a loan-by-loan basis. If, after Merrill Lynch's review, it does not believe a claim is valid, it will deny the claim and generally indicate a reason for the denial. When the counterparty agrees with Merrill Lynch's denial of the claim, the counterparty may rescind the claim. When there is disagreement as to the resolution of the claim, meaningful dialogue and negotiation between the parties are generally necessary to reach a resolution on an individual claim. Generally, a whole-loan investor is engaged in the repurchase process and Merrill Lynch and the whole-loan investor reach resolution, either through loan-by-loan negotiation or at times, through a bulk settlement. Although the timeline for resolution varies, once an actionable breach is identified on a given loan, settlement is generally reached as to that loan within 60 to 90 days. When a claim has been denied and Merrill Lynch does not have communication with the counterparty for six months, Merrill Lynch views these claims as inactive; however, they remain in the unresolved repurchase claims balance until resolution.
In private-label securitizations, certain presentation thresholds need to be met in order for investors to direct a trustee to bring repurchase claims. Merrill Lynch and its affiliates have had limited experience with loan-level private-label securitization repurchases as the number of valid repurchase claims received has been limited. In the three months ended June 30, 2013, Merrill Lynch received $0.6 billion of new repurchase claims, primarily from private-label securitization trustees. Over time, there has been an increase in requests for loan files from certain private-label securitization trustees. Merrill Lynch believes it is likely that these requests will lead to a continued increase in repurchase claims from private-label securitization trustees with standing to bring such claims. In addition, private label securitization trustees may have obtained loan files through other means, including litigation and administrative subpoenas. The representations and warranties, as governed by the private-label securitization agreements, generally require that counterparties have the ability to both assert a claim and actually prove that a loan has an actionable defect under the applicable contracts. While Merrill Lynch believes the agreements for private-label securitizations generally contain less rigorous representations and warranties and place higher burdens on claimants seeking repurchases than the express provisions of comparable agreements with the GSEs, without regard to any variations that may have arisen as a result of dealing with the GSEs, the agreements generally include a representation that underwriting practices were prudent and customary. In the case of private-label securitization trustees, there is currently no established process in place for the parties to reach a conclusion on an individual loan if there is a disagreement on the resolution of the claim.
As of June 30, 2013, the notional amount of unresolved repurchase claims submitted by private-label securitization trustees or whole-loan investors was approximately $7.2 billion. Merrill Lynch has performed an initial review with respect to $6.9 billion of these claims and does not believe a valid basis for repurchase has been established by the claimant, and is still in the process of reviewing the remaining $0.3 billion of these claims.