RY.PR.B To Be Redeemed

Royal Bank of Canada has announced:

its intention, subject to the approval of the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), to redeem all of its issued and outstanding Non-Cumulative First Preferred Shares Series AB (the “Series AB shares”) on September 27, 2017, for cash at a redemption price of CDN $25.00 per share, together with all declared and unpaid dividends. Royal Bank of Canada also announced its intention, subject to the approval of OSFI, to redeem all of its issued and outstanding Non-Cumulative Perpetual First Preferred Shares Series C-1 (the “Series C-1 shares”) on November 13, 2017, for cash at a redemption price of U.S. $1,000 per share (equivalent to U.S. $25.00 per related depositary share), together with all declared and unpaid dividends. The NYSE-listed Series C-1 depositary shares, each of which represents a 1/40th interest in a Series C-1 share will be redeemed concurrently with the redemption of the Series C-1 shares.

In addition, the Bank has also declared a 34-day dividend of CDN $0.109452 per Series AB share covering the period from August 24, 2017 (the date of the last dividend payment), up to but excluding the redemption date of September 27, 2017. This results in a total amount of CDN $25.109452 per Series AB share to be paid upon surrender of the Series AB shares.

The final quarterly dividend of U.S. $13.75 per share for the Series C-1 shares (equivalent to U.S. $0.34375 per related depositary share) will be paid in the usual manner on November 13, 2017 to shareholders of record on November 3, 2017.

There are 12,000,000 Series AB shares and 82,050 Series C-1 shares outstanding. The redemption of the Series AB and C-1 shares will be financed out of the general corporate funds of Royal Bank of Canada.

Please visit http://www.rbc.com/investorrelations/share-information.html to view tax Questions & Answers relating to the redemption of the Series C-1 shares.

RY.PR.B is a 4.7% Straight Perpetual that was issued shortly after I started this blog; it commenced trading 2006-7-20.

The Series C-1 shares were issued in exchange for City National Corporation’s preferred shares as part of the takeover consideration in November 2015.

The decision to redeem RY.PR.B has attracted some comment on PrefBlog with respect to the timing. Assiduous Reader Brian noted:

In the past, when a bank had several prefs in this group, they always seemed to redeem the issue with the lowest dividend first (eg. Bank of Nova Scotia redeemed BNS.pr.M [4.5%] and BNS.pr.N [5.25%] before finally redeeming BNS.pr.O [5.6%]). That made no sense and I’m hoping that someone can explain this backward thinking to me!

We can resolve this with a little help from PrefInfo. BNS.PR.O was redeemed 2017-4-26, which was the first day of its par call. BNS.PR.N was redeemed 2017-1-27, the first day of its par call. And BNS.PR.M was redeemed 2016-7-27, the first day of its par call.

The explanation is rather neat and not immediately obvious. In fact, long ago I had a contest about this explanation which was won by Assiduous Reader adrian2. Straight Preferreds will, as a rule, have a redemption price which declines from $26 during the sixth year after issue to $25 (the par value) after it has been in existence for nine years. The decline is at a rate of $0.25 p.a. Therefore, if you are an issuer deciding which of several issues to redeem, you should account for the fact that waiting a while will reduce the price – and $0.25 p.a. is fairly substantial compared with the differences in dividend between two issues!

So if we consider BNS’ position in mid-2016, it had a choice of three issues to call:

  • BNS.PR.M, paying $1.125 p.a.
  • BNS.PR.N, paying 1.3125, or
  • BNS.PR.O, paying 1.40

So, as Brian comments, one would normally expect that BNS.PR.O would be redeemed first. However, by waiting until 2017-4-26, they saved $0.25 on the redemption price, so the net cost to them of waiting was only three dividends (October, January, April) totalling $1.05, less the $0.25 reduction in premium, net $0.80. The reduction in premium was not applicable to BNS.PR.M, so it would have cost them the full amount of three dividends, or $0.84375, to have left it outstanding until April. I’m sure that as well there are operational considerations, like making people all confused about their taxes and angry at the redemption as well, but doing the redemptions in reverse order was cheaper, albeit not by much.

So full marks to Assiduous Reader LD for his explanation.

However, what makes this very interesting is the fact that RY.PR.W has not been redeemed, although it is currently callable at par (and has been since 2014-2-24) and pays more ($1.225 p.a.) than RY.PR.B ($1.175). As was noted a long time ago RY.PR.W is convertible into common at the option of the issuer, a feature which has been used to give NVCC status to preferred shares without the necessity of holding a shareholder vote on a change of terms. All that is necessary is an assignment of the conversion trigger right to OSFI. So, the redemption of RY.PR.B instead of the higher-paying RY.PR.W can be taken as an indication – not a guarantee, but an indication – that Royal Bank will be seeking NVCC status for RY.PR.W in the future … or at least wants to keep its options open for a little longer!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.