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Minibond Investors Meet With MAS

A group of Minibond investors met up with officials from MAS on Monday evening. Click on this link to read a summary of the discussion.

Separately, our Finance Minister, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, made a statement about Lehman Bonds (not minibonds!) over the weekend. 

There have to be improvements in marketing and selling and disclosure. There are learning points coming out from the recent problems.

(But) let’s not swing to over-regulation because that is going to increase costs and it’s going to reduce the range of products that meet everyone’s needs.

Should MAS say A1 bonds should not be bought by people? I think that would be over-regulation, but it turned out that Lehman Bonds went bust.

So it’s an example of how there is risk in the system, there is no way you can get it out of the picture by over-regulation unless you over-regulate to the extent you cut out options to sensible investors.

Was he was under the mistaken impression that normal Lehman bonds were sold? Or perhaps the journalist misquoted him.

In Hong Kong, regulators are “urging” distributors to buy back the Minibonds. They have gotten the trustees to disclose to the distributors details of the minibonds’ underlying collateral, so investors can get a clearer picture of where exactly they stand.

In Singapore, the trustee, HSBC Institutional Trust Services, told the Monetary Authority of Singapore that it will consider proposals from some investors to replace Lehman as a counterparty for all series of the so-called “minibonds” linked to the collapsed U.S. bank.

Hope for Minibond Investors (Today)

If this proposal does not go through, the trustee will undertake an orderly disposal of the securities and use the proceeds to pay off noteholders.

Click here to leave your comments.

Leave a Comment:

sian says 12 years ago


How can I be the volunteer???

Minibond Track B: Catching Up With Hong Kong | Den of The Lion Investor says 12 years ago

[…] because Lehman is not one of the credit reference entities. Please read my earlier comment in on why the underlying securities even like subprime mortgages are worth money. Why am I focusing […]

HK5D says 12 years ago


I attended the gathering at the Speakers’ Corner yesterday. It was great to have someone like Mr. TAN Kin Lian to organize it. Even better, there were sign posts to group victims by products so that they can meet each other. In fact, I did an impromptu leading of a discussion group focusing on how we can get the most value out of the MiniBonds back to the investors (what I now call Track B below). I am putting my comments here because by reading through the discussion stream, I can see a lot of brains here. And, I am hoping we can get a handful of volunteers who have deep understanding of this MiniBond stuffs who can represent the investors to work with MAS, the Financial Institutions and HSBC (MiniBond Trustee) to find a buyer – just as important is at the right timing (last week could be the darkest day in the stock market worldwide in this century). Let me volunteer myself first: I spent half my life in the U.S. and as a CPA there, I have a pretty good understanding of how the subprime mortgage market (besides the financial market) works in the U.S. Another area which I can contribute is I am a transplant from Hong Kong and I can monitor the developments over there. So, if you can help, please don’t be shy – I felt really sorry for many of those old folks there at the Speakers’ Corner with their life savings gone. They need your help!

Up to now, I think there are pretty good traction along what I call “Track A: Mis-Sold” meaning investors were sold a high risk product thinking they were investing in a low risk product. Blogs and newspapers are full of stories of how people were misled and how they lost their life savings. There are also plenty of advices on how to complain. Yet, it is also the consensus that very few people can outwit the FI lawyers to get money back this way.

So, in addition of Track A, I would like to start a “Track B: Maximize Value” track. And, this is not a competition of Track A but rather, a safety net. And, to be laser focused, I will concentrate on Track B only. Specifically for some of the MiniBond owners, they are lucky because Lehman is not one of the credit reference entities. Please read my earlier comment in on why the underlying securities even like subprime mortgages are worth money. Why am I focusing on MiniBond? Because over 80% of the investors are MiniBond investors. And, Jubilee 3 is said to be worth next to none.

Coming from Hong Kong, I have an advantage. I follow the development there. And, they seem to be ahead of Singapore. So, let’s copy, don’t innovate:-) Specifically, HKFA (their MAS), the FI’s and the MiniBond investors representatives (do we have representatives in Singapore? We do have representatives for Track A. But, I am not aware of for Track B – and if so, I have not been informed of what their plans) are in discussions with buyers and they are working towards a target of 60+ cents on a dollar back. What about Singapore? If we don’t band together and work proactively, I am afraid we may get less month back than similar investors in Hong Kong.

By the way, using the same mechanism, we can try to get the FI’s to pay us back the commission they earn (3% or so) on a moral voluntary basis. These MiniBond type stuffs generate so much bad publicities for them that if I were an FI owner, I would certain do that to salvage my reputation.

Last but not least, my hotmail alias is HK5D which could be inspirational for Singaporeans. In Chinese, HK5D means “Hong Kong is a bit faster”. Judging from the Track B development, I would say it is quite true that Hong Kong is ahead. And, I am including a link to relevant newspaper reporting in Hong Kong. I said inspirational because even though we are behind in Singapore, we can play catch up (borrow an F1 might help also:-) and still achieve the same payback if we get our acts together.

The link below (in Chinese since many people at the Speakers Corner do not speak English) basically says some MiniBond series may be able to get 60% back. Exceptions are Series 5-9 (some say 7-9) which swaps with Lehman and worth about zero. And, series 15-18 uses subprime mortgages as collateral and may get let than half back. Now, the series might be different than Singapore’s – another reason we should band together and demand more info on the underlining assets in Singapore.

Here is another link which as excellent FAQ:

Hong Kong investors are quite demanding. If I were an investor in Hong Kong and can get 60 cents (some are saying 70 now if you have the right series) back on a dollar, I would be very happy. Yet, people were calling for head of HKFA to resign. God forbid if, when all the dust settle, Hong Kong investors get 60 cents back and Singaporean’s only get 10 cents, e.g. What would Singaporeans do?

Please let me know if you can contribute and are interested in volunteering.

P.S. I am piggy backing on this blog instead of starting my new blog because I don’t think we should be fragmented. We should united all investors and put all the brains together across all blogs. I particularly like this blog having the ability to publish what you write right way. Of course, this also means we have to write responsibly. To get better traction, it would be great if the blog master can move this out of the reply and state a new stream.

    SWN says 12 years ago


    HSBC Trustee is acting for all minibond holders (within each series), how could they possibly realise that part of the securities classified under Singapore noteholders and return said, 10 cents while HK bondholders could get 60 cents?

      HK5D says 12 years ago

      My understanding is that they they are two separate trustee companies in two separate country/geo. Also, the reference entities could be different espeically the local references. I think the underlining collaterals within each series could be the same – does anyone know?

        HK5D says 12 years ago

        Oh, I probably missed out on the biggest reason also: banks and FIs are pressured into buying the stuffs back there.

        SWN says 12 years ago

        I don’t know if you are correct that separate trustees existed in separate country/location. Perhaps lioninvestor can comment?

        richard says 12 years ago

        To check whether the series is the same , I think we can check whether
        the Hong Kong series has the same portfolio and ISIN:

        For example, Mini Series 2 is Beryl Finance Ltd Synethetic Portfolio due
        2012 ISIN:XS0382664620, Series 3 Beryl Finance Ltd Synethetic Portfolio
        ISIN XS0382664976

        lioninvestor says 12 years ago

        I think the Trustees are probably different. In Singapore, it is

        HSBC Institutional Trust Services (Singapore) Ltd

        Perhaps it is a Hong Kong branch over at Hong Kong.

        The underlying collaterals for different series will be different.

VSL says 12 years ago


I vaguely remember reading somewhere in your blog that to liquidate MB 3 (if it comes to that stage) HSBC must obtain at least 20% noteholders’ approval (dollar-wise). I have searched thru your blog but can’t seem to find it now. Can you pls shed some light on this?

If this is so, then investors can deny HSBC permission to unwind the securities till a white knight is found. HSBC then just needs to keep the product frozen in “suspended animation”. Product will be revived when a white knight arrives. If no white knight arrives by the maturity date, then liquidate the product. There will be admin costs for HSBC, which may have already been paid upfront. Is my understanding correct? Tks.


richard says 12 years ago

Can someone enlighten me what’s the role and risk of being the swap counterparty? It was reported in Today that a few FIs are looking into commercial viability of replacing Lehman Bros as the swap counterparty.

Does it cost a lot to be a swap counterparty? I thought the fundamental thing they have to do is preserve our underlying securities until maturities.

Maybe they need some admin cost, legal fee, etc . However, surely the FIs (who sold the structured products ) can contribute a bit each to defray part of the cost.

In this current market, we must never liquidate our underlying securities. Die, die someone (maybe even the MiniBond investors) have to form a company to take over this role.

    lioninvestor says 12 years ago

    Hi Richard,

    This diagram explains it:

    The bottomline is that there must be money to be made for someone to offer to take over the swap counterparty role.

      richard says 12 years ago

      I noted your reply and illustrative diagram with my heartfelt

      In the event no white knight appear to take over the role of the swap counterparty, I would like to propose that the minibond investors (or representatives) the FIs and MAS come together and study how much
      it cost to support the formation of the swap counterparty.

      The seed money can be provided jointly by the FIs , maybe a little bit
      from the MiniBond investors, and some financial support from the government, then we can get this counterparty thing going. Besides ,over times I am sure we can still collect some dividend from those good equities in the underlying securities.

      If possible we can try to do away with all those currency & interest rate swap, CDS etc and focus more on keeping the underlying securities in trust until its maturies for all the series.

      My idea may be naive or simplistic. Maybe there are other complications which I am not aware of. Any comments , anyone.

        lioninvestor says 12 years ago

        12. Might it be feasible to replace Lehman as swap counterparty instead of taking enforcement action against the underlying securities?

        This is possible by way of novation of the swap agreement. A novation would require agreement as to the terms of any deal by the relevant Lehman swap counterparty, Minibond Limited and the noteholders. This option would be a possible alternative to enforcement if a firm, complete and comprehensive offer was to be placed on the table by an appropriate third party which had the support of Lehman (or its liquidator) and Minibond Limited.

        13. Have any third parties expressed an interest in novation?

        Yes, we have been approached by a small number of potentially interested parties. We have released what information we hold in relation to the notes to them with a view to facilitating discussions between them, Lehman (or its liquidator) and Minibond Limited in relation to any possible offer of novation.

Roger says 12 years ago

Sorry for the mistake on ML Pinnacle 3.

What I meant is ML Jubilee 3.

ALVIN says 12 years ago

we should do something fast if not one by one they will al be liquidated

    Roger says 12 years ago

    We need to understand whether the “liquidation” considered will be carried out under the scope of early redemption elected by the issuer or a credit default redemption.

    There are major differences at how the remaining return is calculated.

    As explained in the pricing statement, If early redemption by issuer is elected, we will get back 100% of invested amount, otherwise the formula used for ML Pinnacle note 3 will apply for credit event redemption.

    This will result in the surrendering of the underlying securities in return for the bonds valuation which is substantially lower as the underlying securities are actually collaterals for the SWAPs.

    The big question now is how HSBC is going to classify the term of default for Minibond series 5 and 6.

    As stated by HSBC, there are so far no credit events or credit defaults claimed to the series 5 and 6 notes and the default is solely due to the failure of payment from the issuer.

    This clearly dictate that payments from the underlying securities are still in place even the if the swap counterparty has stopped making payment to the issuer.

    For that matter, we should not even be paying for the cost of unwinding to the SWAPs, as the material role and risk consideration to the SWAP guarantor was never elaborated and disclosed in the prospecteus.

    The issuer is playing smart right now by not electing for a early redemption, but can they initiate a credit redemption if credit event from the REs or credit default from the underlying securities were to happen at later stage?

    We must seek clarification with HSBC and insist for our right to retain 100% proceed from the sales of the underlying securities as the amount is critical and decisive to whether there is any left for the investors.

    We must fight hard for our right.

    Lioninvestor, can you provide some advise and comment.

      lioninvestor says 12 years ago

      Hi Roger,

      it will not be a default like Jubilee 3.

      In this case, we will get back the proceeds from the sale of the underlying securities, after subtracting for all swap unwinding and other costs.

Richard says 12 years ago

The financial market worldwide is now in a total state of disarray.

As Lioninvestor said, the market will be better in a few months; if I may add , many more months or years.

Now we are just like holding on to a basket of good and bad stocks and bonds in MiniBond Ltd. The only difference is we still have the swap party arrangement with LBFI to settle. If a financial institution or the trustee or a white knight take over the swap counterparty, everything will remain status quo.

What is not clear is whether we still get some peanut coupon from the underlying securities

In the best case scenario,we wait and hope the market recover and the underlying securities do not go bust. In the worst case scenario, some of the stocks and bonds go bankrupt or worthless , everything would go down the drain

Maybe 2 or 3 years. Nobody knows. However we still have hope that if nothing happen, we can fully redeem the underlying securities at maturies.

Notwithstanding the above scenario, the best way forward is to have a buyback from the financial institutions. They assume the risk and we get a better payout.

    lioninvestor says 12 years ago

    Not stocks and bonds actually.

    Some of the underlying are synthetic CDOs, with credit default swaps written. Another big can of worms.

Bad Dream says 12 years ago

I have just read the liquidation of Jubilee Series 3 in the lioninvestor’s blog. Here’s the link:

After reading Lioninvestor’s update on the liquidation of Jubilee Series 3, I fear this is what will happen to our Minibonds if they start selling of the underlying securities.

Basically after selling the underlying securities and lessing off expense, investors get ZERO.

At the moment assets pricing is very depressed.

We need to lobby MAS and HSBC Trustees to find a White Knight. I know there are risks involved as well. However, we can buy time and hopefully things get better with time.

Anyway, things cannot get any worse – what can be worse than getting back nothing of next to nothing?

We all need to consider very carefully.

Of course at the same time we need to pursue the mis-selling and try to get FI to compensate. But this will take time.

Please do not vote for HSBC to sell off underlying securities.

Lioninvestor and experts out there – pls give us your views – thanks!

    lioninvestor says 12 years ago

    Hi Bad Dream,

    Using the Jubilee numbers, the minibond could fetch 10-20% after everything. Slightly better off as we do not need to replace with the defaulted bond.

    Depending on the underlying assets, the numbers could also be very different.

    I think the valuation will be much better a few months from now; as long as there are no defaults occurring.

    Kenneth says 12 years ago

    Lastest from Hong Kong The Standard [08 Oct 08]. Sentiment is the same in Sgp.

    Let’s hope something good turn up after the MAS annoucement but this does not omit the fact that FIs are responsible for the choas created. FIs are going to take a while to win back customers’ confident. I, for one, is looking at them in a different light now. I don’t fully blame the FAs because they don’t really understand what they were selling. In fact, who does? Product is like a incomplete Jigsaw puzzle design to hoodwink…


HK5D says 12 years ago

(1) It is good that we have this website where victims can find more information about. In addition, I rely on websites in Hong Kong (such as SingTao, one of the big newspapers) which tends to have more in depth reporting on the situation. For example, just yesterday, the main reporting head lines 80% of the Lehman victims like us in Hong Kong may be able to get 60%. [And, there is more detailed information too like if it was backed by Lehman or MBIA, then may be only 0-50%.] Now, we can debate whether these numbers are accurate. But, I am information hungry and would rather getting some reporting on numbers than the silence in Singapore.

(2) Having exposure to media and websites at both Singapore and Hong Kong, I can’t help but to compliment how tame we Singaporeans are. I wonder if those protests, meeting with the authorities, oppositing parties taking up the issues were some of the causes to make Hong Kong’s approach to this problem more progressive than Singapore. If anything, calling for the MAS head counterpart in Hong Kong to resign certain puts some pressure. I felt like up to now, the MAS, the FI and HSBC (trustee) are just going by the book. Ultimately, how much the Hong Kong investors getting back vs. Singaporeans on similar products would be the ultimate scorecard for MAS vs. their counterpart in Hong Kong when all the dust settles.

(3) The issue at heart is whether HSBC as trustee just dumps the collaterals which has no market – which when Merrill Lynch dumped billions of them in the U.S. a months or so ago, they got something like 22 cents on a dollar. But, if you hold the mortgages to maturity, even with default, the intrinsic value should be much higher (meaning 100% of the mortgagers would have to default PLUS the value of their homes went to zero because we got zero back). The Hong Kong approach, which is basically their MAS pressuring the FI’s to look at the intrinsic value and make a market for it hence recovering more money for the victims. We can’t expect HSBC to be aggressive in seeking higher value for the victims without pressure from the authorities. We all should know how FI works by now – commissions, not conscience.

(4) Another issue I would like to see, which even in Hong Kong media, I did not see that mentioned. That is, in addition to pressing the trustee and FI to get the most value back to the victims, it would be really great if the FI could voluntarily cough up the commissions they earned from the victims on these toxic products. I don’t think any of us would have purchased MiniBond type stuffs from the bookies at the street corner. They bought it because of the “reputation” of the FI’s. This could easily be another 5% of the investments back to the victims.

    lioninvestor says 12 years ago

    Hi HK5D,

    To address your 3rd point, you might not need 100% of defaults to get nothing back.

    Some of these products are structured in a very complicated manner, eg synthetic CDOs. There might be 100+ entities in the underlying securities. As long as there is less than X number of defaults, the principle will not be affected.

    Once it goes over the threshold X, the loss becomes exponential. X could be a number as low as between 8-10.

      HK5D says 12 years ago

      Correct. The rules are so complex that it is easier to study black jacks and craps than this. I was mere commenting under the scenario of subprime as collateral. Good news is that in Hong Kong, there are better estimate now as to how much people may be able to salvage depending on which series they got.

    Kenneth says 12 years ago

    Maybe we should setup a stall at Hong Lim Square the reads ” Lehman Minibond Victims Corner. Toxic Products distributed by

    With negative publicity as the same time a physical spot for people to talk about it. This may encourage the FIs to shut it down quickly by taking more responsibilities.

    Just like school orientation where people take turn to take care of the stall.

    steve says 12 years ago

    I read your post on Track B and like to volunteer my time. How do I contact you?

      HK5D says 12 years ago

      Hi Steve,

      Please drop me an email at [email protected]

      Thank you very much,


Very Sian says 12 years ago

I’m surprised may be even our finance minister don’t know the difference between Lehman bonds and Mini bonds! He talked about A1 Lehman bonds while we were cheated to invest in what he believed to be so. Is this mis-representation? Maybe he still don’t know our money went into some garbage CDOs, not the A1 bonds? Or he has lost touch with the whole issue?
How can we who went to neighbourhood schools understand the risks involved and that we were misled in the first place thinking they are actually A1 bonds and not bombs? Mind u, our ministers went to the top schools around the world and they are the top brains in this country.

MinibondVictim says 12 years ago

I agree (and appeal) to MAS and government to explore possibility of using Temasek or GIC to act as white knight to take over the Minibond. They have highly talented people that can explore ways to make these into worthwhile investments for their corporate cause and at same time help correct this financial disaster that affected thousands of man in street.

    Kenneth says 12 years ago

    Temasak has always claim to be independent of the Govt and they continue to be so. Recently buying of ML and citi shares is now a big lost to them. They are taking over Changi terminal then selling power plant. I think Mr. Tony Tan is right, Temasak is looking for opportunity in a gloom market.

    Will the minibond note be one of them? It is not expensive, just S$500 million or US$350 million. It has the people money and when 8000 people are in trouble now, helping seems right. Maybe US Govt is also right. Keep the underlying securities for 5 years and when things become rosy, they can even sell at a profit.

    Maybe need to send the RM or FAs to talk to them. They may buy it after being CON-sulted.


Kenneth says 12 years ago


Today’s paper on page B2.

I think the we should continue with the Saturday Hong Lim Square gathering as both the FIs and FAs cannot reframe from their responsibilities of selling a high risk products to unsuspecting customers.

For swap counterparty to succeed, the new institution have to consider
i) they will make money out it,
ii) a potential high demand for early redemption,
iii) Can continue to commit to the initial 4-5% annual interest payment.
iv) Is there still good value in underlying securities.

The current slump in DJ is heading for 9,000. Last year it was 13,500 before the subprime slump. With credit crunch and other issues, my most optimistic view is the Govt private arm getting involve i.e. Temasak or Temasak back financial institutions to save guide the heartlanders saving. Other than this, I cannot imagine who would want this toxic product. Another possibility is Local banks consortium but they are going to find a hard time convincing their shareholders.


    Jasmin says 12 years ago

    Basically now is finding a white knight but who wants this toxic waste? Govt private arm is not a charity org. Given the current condition, probably it will be better to keep the cash than spend it unless it is quite confident on the future returns.

Jubilee says 12 years ago

But no news for Merrill Lynch Jubilee Series 3 Notes yet.

SINGAPORE -(Dow Jones)- Singapore’s central bank said Tuesday that Lehman Brothers Holding Inc. (LEH) has defaulted on an issue of bonds sold to local investors.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore said in a statement that the trustee for the Minibonds will consider finding a counterparty to replace Lehman Brothers.

The trustee said if it doesn’t find a counterparty arrangement it will liquidate the bonds and pay the proceeds to bondholders.

Holders of the Lehman bonds include retail investors who have asked the central bank for help in recouping their investments.

Layman says 12 years ago

Hello, will some kind soul please help summarize and enlighten me on the status of the following: (1) Minibond 3 (2) Minibond 7 (3) Pinnacle 5B (4) Pinnacle 9 (5) Jubilee 3 (6) MQ Yield+ 2.55%.

I have been pouring through Mr Tan Kin Lian’s blog and Lion Investor for hours, and still unable to form a full picture of which are confirmed Zero value, which are highly likely Zero, which are still intact? My retired father and housewife mother, together with myself have put our hard-earned monies across these 6 products, thinking we are actually “DIVERSIFYING” our risks by not “putting into the same basket”. Seems like these are all in the same basket afterall!!

We are conservative people, not risk takers. We have been putting most of our monies in Fixed Deposits all these years. Until 2007 when we were first introduced to these products, starting with Minibond 3. We were advised that these are capital protected as long as we keep to maturity; that the worst case we do not get dividends. With the positive assurance, we transfered our Fixed Deposits over the months across these “Safe/Low-risk” notes. My parents and I bought these products from the SAME Financial Institute, through the SAME Advisor.

At no time did the Advisor warn us of any Risk – whether or not the Advisor realize that our Risk Profile do not match the Amount invested and product risk! Even as I write this, I have still not heard from the Advisor on the status/value of the products we have purchased. Hence I am turning to any helpful public for advice.

This can be used as a CASE STUDY — if the Press, Fidrec, MP, Police or MAS wish to further unveil the plight of AVERAGE SINGAPOREANS. Alas, I’m resigned to believe this post – like all others – will not cause any of the authorities to TAKE POSITIVE ACTIONS.

I would think that MAS or CDP would have access to all Investors’ data, including Age, Last Drawn Pay (if any), Investment Portfolio (if any), to determine Risky Investors vs Conservative (Mislead) Citizens.

And for those out there who are QUICK to say investors “deserved” it, please hold your Horses. Spare a thought for the TRUE VICTIMS.

    lioninvestor says 12 years ago


    Jubilee 3 will be terminated and it is likely you will get back close to 0 for it as Lehman Brothers is one of the reference entities.

    Minibond 3 and 7 are dependent on whether someone comes and takeover Lehman Brothers as a swap counterparty. Otherwise, they will be sold and you will get back likely less than half of your principle.

    Pinnacle and MQ Yield – will need the prospectus or factsheet before I can comment further.

    You can try bugging your advisor for more details.

    If you felt you have been mislead, you can do this:

    lioninvestor says 12 years ago


    I did a writeup on MQ yield+. Not too sure whether yours is the same series.

    jc says 12 years ago


    Pinnacle 9 will default soon. It is a matter of time. I am prepaing to send my complaint to OCBC Securities whom I bought from. Never know that I bought into a scheme that I am insuring “only Gods-know” a list of 100 companies.

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