MBIA Sued over Business Split

Monoline bond insurer MBIA faces a lawsuit by 18 financial firms over its decision to split its mortgage exposures off of its municipal-bond insurance portfolio. The allegations claim MBIA’s split and the resulting transfer of $5bn out of its main insurance business to a muni-bond insurance company constituted an unlawful effort to escape contractual obligations to cover mortgage security-related losses, according to a report filed at the Wall Street Journal. Many of the 18 institutions at the suing end of the case — which included JP Morgan Chase (JPM), Bank of America (BAC), Morgan Stanley (MS), Barclays and UBS AG, among others — purchased credit derivatives that supposedly protected them against losses on subprime mortgage- and commercial real estate-backed securities. “Our lawsuit simply seeks to ensure that policy holders receive what they have paid premiums for: contractually guaranteed insurance protection,” said Vince Diblasi, a lawyer representing the suing party, to WSJ. But MBIA is pursuing a case of its own to recoup losses it says were unfair. MBIA Insurance brought a case against Merrill Lynch over certain “misrepresented” credit default swap (CDS) contracts and related insurance policies. MBIA asked the New York Supreme Court to rescind — or unmake — the contracts and damages resulting from Merrill’s “misrepresentations” and contract breaches. According to the suit, Merrill marketed the CDS contracts to MBIA as part of a strategy to offload billions of dollars in deteriorating subprime residential mortgages. MBIA alleges that Merrill either packaged these bad mortgages into collateralized debt obligations or hedged their own exposure to them through insurer-guaranteed swaps. Write to Diana Golobay at [email protected]. Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments.

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