The Group offers a wide range of financial services and products to dealers and customers. In particular, and by way of example, the principal financial services offered by the Agricultural and Construction Equipment Segment are represented by the retail financing for the purchase or lease of new and used Segment equipment and wholesale financing to dealers, while the principal financial services offered by the Trucks and Commercial Vehicles Segment to customers are represented by lease and retail financing for the purchase of new and used Segment vehicles.
In light of the above, the following risks associated with the Group’s financial services activities should be considered.
Fundamental to any organization that extends credit is the credit risk associated with its customers/borrowers. The creditworthiness of each customer, rates of delinquency and default, repossessions and net losses on loans to customers are impacted by many factors, including:
- relevant industry and general economic conditions;
- the availability of capital;
- interest rates (and changes in the applicable rates);
- the experience and skills of the customer’s management team;
- commodity prices;
- political events;
- the weather; and
- the value of the collateral securing the extension of credit.
Deterioration in the quality of the Group’s financial assets, an increase in delinquencies or defaults, or a reduction in collateral recovery rates could have an adverse impact on the performance of the Group’s financial services businesses. These risks become more acute in an economic slowdown or recession due to decreased demand for (or availability of) credit, declining asset values, changes in government subsidies, reductions in collateral to loan balance ratios, and an increase in delinquencies, defaults, insolvencies, foreclosures and losses. In such circumstances, the Group’s loan servicing and litigation costs may also increase. In addition, governments may pass laws, or implement regulations, that modify rights and obligations under existing agreements, or which prohibit or limit the exercise of contractual rights.
When loans default and the Group’s financial services businesses repossess collateral securing the repayment of a loan, its ability to recover or mitigate losses by selling the collateral is subject to the current market value of such collateral. Those values are affected by levels of new and used inventory of agricultural and construction equipment, as well as trucks and commercial vehicles, on the market. They are also dependent upon the strength or weakness of market demand for new and used agricultural and construction equipment, as well as for trucks and commercial vehicles, which is affected by the strength of the general economy. In addition, repossessed collateral may be in poor condition, which would reduce its value. Finally, relative pricing of used equipment, compared with new equipment, can affect levels of market demand and the resale of repossessed equipment. An industry-wide decrease in demand for agricultural or construction equipment, as well as for trucks and commercial vehicles, could result in lower resale values for repossessed equipment, which could increase losses on loans and leases, adversely affecting the Group’s financial position and results of operations.
The Group’s financial services businesses have traditionally relied upon the asset-backed securitization (“ABS”) market and committed asset-backed facilities as a primary source of funding and liquidity. Access to funding at competitive rates is essential to the Group’s financial services businesses. From mid-2007 through 2009, events occurred in the global financial market, including the weakened financial condition of several major financial institutions, problems related to subprime mortgages and other financial assets, the devaluation of various assets in secondary markets, the forced sale of asset-backed and other securities by certain investors, and the lowering of ratings on certain ABS transactions, which caused a significant reduction in liquidity in the secondary market for ABS transactions outstanding at such time and a significant increase in funding costs. During these periods, conditions in the ABS market adversely affected the Group’s ability to sell receivables on a favorable or timely basis. Similar conditions in the future would have an adverse impact on the Group’s financial position and results of operations. As the Group’s financial services businesses finance a significant portion of the Group’s sales of equipment, to the extent such financial services businesses are unable to access funding on acceptable terms, the Group’s sales of equipment would be negatively impacted.
To maintain competitiveness in the capital markets and to promote the efficient use of various funding sources, additional reserve support was added to certain previously-issued ABS transactions. Such optional support may, in the future, be required to maintain credit ratings assigned to transactions if loss experiences are higher than anticipated. The need to provide additional reserve support could have an adverse effect on the Group’s financial position, results of operations and cash flows.
In connection with the Group’s ABS transactions, the Group makes customary representations and warranties regarding the assets being securitized, as disclosed in the relevant offering documents. While no recourse provisions exist that allow holders of asset-backed securities issued by the Group’s trusts to require the Group to repurchase those securities, a breach of these representations and warranties could give rise to an obligation to repurchase non- conforming receivables from the trusts. Any future repurchases could have an adverse effect on the Group’s financial position, results of operations and cash flows.
The operations of the Group’s financial services businesses are subject, in certain instances, to supervision and regulation by various governmental authorities. These operations are also subject to various laws, as well as to judicial and administrative decisions and interpretations, imposing requirements and restrictions, which among other things:
- regulate credit granting activities, including establishing licensing requirements;
- establish maximum interest rates, finance and other charges;
- regulate customers’ insurance coverage;
- require disclosures to customers;
- govern secured and unsecured transactions;
- set collection, foreclosure, repossession and claims handling procedures and other trade practices;
- prohibit discrimination in the extension of credit and administration of loans; and
- regulate the use and reporting of information related to a borrower.
To the extent that applicable laws are amended or construed differently, new laws are adopted to expand the scope of regulation imposed upon such financial services businesses, or applicable laws prohibit interest rates the Group charges from rising to a level commensurate with risk and market conditions, such events could adversely affect the Group’s financial services businesses and the Group’s financial position and results of operations.
Potential Impact of the Dodd-Frank Act
The various requirements of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”), including the many implementing regulations yet to be released, may substantially affect the origination, servicing and securitization programs of the Groups’ financial services businesses. For example, the Dodd-Frank Act strengthens the regulatory oversight of these securities and capital market activities by the SEC and increases the regulation of the ABS markets through, among other things, a mandated risk retention requirement for securitizers and a direction to the SEC to regulate credit rating agencies and adopt regulations governing these organizations. While the Group will continue to monitor these developments and their impact upon its access to the ABS market, these and future SEC regulations may impact the Group’s ability to engage in these activities or increase the effective cost of ABS transactions in the future, which could adversely affect its financial position, results of operations and cash flows.