Intervista ( in inglese) con ritratto ( in italiano) a Jean Bernard Wurm, Managing Director di Secure Legal Title Limited, Londra
di Paola G. Lunghini
A portrait/ interview by Paola G. Lunghini ( portrait in Italian, interview in English)
Varca l’ uscio di casa mia con un gran sorriso sul volto.
-Paola, sono proprio contento di vederti, e grazie ancora per questo invito a pranzo ! Ti ho portato una notizia , a te la posso dare in anteprima perché è ufficiale, abbiamo
formato qui in Italia una JV con Aon e il Notariato, per lanciare la “ donazione sicura”.
( «SLT is one of the shareholders, together with a group of notaries and some individuals, of Titolo Sicuro, which in turn has an agreement with AON to be the exclusive broker for the donazione sicura. It is not per se a JV with AON, they are not shareholders in Titolo Sicuro, but more a venture “in common”» ).
Si aprono spazi molto interessanti, perché a oggi non esisteva una copertura che annullasse i rischi derivanti dall’ acquisto e/o finanziamento dei beni di provenienza donativa, garantendo in tali casi la “ sicurezza” di una compravendita . Situazioni di questo tipo ( i beni di provenienza donativa , intendo) da voi sono in crescita, ma sino a ora il tema era considerato “ pericoloso”, in certi casi addirittura travolgente. Ma “ dietro a noi” ci sono i Lloyd’s of London…
-JB, Dimmi di più…
-Tranquilla, spiegheremo tutto, nei dettagli, molto presto. Qualche settimana di pazienza.
Eccolo qui, Jean Bernard Wurm, che conosco da tanti anni, Managing Director di Secure Legal Title Limited : «an Appointed Representative of Tyser & Co Ltd., authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Tyser & Co Ltd’s FCA Registration Number is 308648. Secure Legal Title Limited is registered in England & Wales, Number 07379672, at 20 Old Broad Street, London EC2N 1DP, United Kingdom».
Jean Bernard, però, lavora da Ginevra . Della bella città svizzera – oltre che casa – ha fatto il centro di una sua personalissima isocrona che dagli Urali , passando attraverso la Central Eastern , la Balcania e la Western Europe, si allunga a Londra e agli USA : ove egli visse e operò – sempre in finanza – per ben 25 anni.
Stava ancora a New York quando ci conoscemmo, ed è ormai da svariati anni che è ritornato in Europa : è francese, nato a Parigi, dove si diplomò con lode all’ Institut d’ Etudes Politiques , aggiungendoci una laurea in Scienze Economiche alla Sorbona e approfondimenti sull’ economia tedesca.
La persona che ho di fronte ( e che sta di fronte a un risotto alla milanese cucinato come si deve e in suo onore : a Jean Bernard la buona cucina piace soprattutto se “ genuina”, ama mangiar bene ma pur essendo francese non è un “big foodie” ) ha oltre «30 years experience in the European and US property markets as a commercial and investment banker and private equity investor. In late-2012, along with two associates, he founded Secure Legal Title, a provider of title insurance for real estate in Europe backed by the financial strength of Lloyd’s. Previously, Jean-Bernard launched the European sales operations of the two largest US title insurance companies. He managed the underwriting and sourcing of insured deals in Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Ukraine and the UK. In July 2006, Jean-Bernard played a key role in enhancing the credit rating for Terra Firma’s €5.4 billion German issue―the largest European CMBS transaction ever. Jean-Bernard began his career with JP Morgan Paris, Frankfurt, and New York, then Bankers Trust/Deutsche Bank and HVB Capital in New York. He was also a Director of the Cedar Income Fund, a shopping center REIT focused on the Northeast US».
Parla tre lingue oltre alla propria : inglese perfetto con accento di New York, tedesco e italiano fluenti.
Il passar del tempo lo ha solo sfiorato, qualche linea d’ espressione in più nel volto che ho sempre visto leggermente abbronzato: JB pratica da sempre molto sport ( hiking in montagna d’ estate, sci in inverno, tennis e nuoto, mai per agonismo o costrizione sociale ( infatti, non va d’ accordo con il golf) ma « per il suo piacere».
Per il suo piacere segue tutte le forme di espressione artistica, ma la grande passione è la musica colta ( suona il pianoforte) , con una predilezione per Debussy e la lirica in generale.
Condividiamo – oltre a essere entrambi cultori dalla musica – anche una dose di felinità: anche lui ha avuto ( nel periodo newyorkese) un fantastico gatto che con lui visse per 16 anni…quando lo lasciò, fu dramma. Di pet, da allora non ne volle più.
E’ “di casa” – oltre a Ginevra , Londra e New York – in molte città del mondo : e la città preferita è quella che ha visitato per ultima…( tra le italiane, oltre alle “ solite “ Roma, Milano, Firenze, Venezia, etc, gli piace molto Bergamo ).
Sempre elegante, gentile, raffinato ( e anche molto divertente ) , JB è , in sintesi, un uomo chic.
Q. Jean Bernard, parliamo un po’ della Tua società, Secure Legal Title Limited, London
A.Secure Legal Title provides title insurance for real estate in Europe, and is backed by the financial strength of Lloyd’s––with ratings higher than those of the US title insurers.
It was founded Oct. 2012 by three senior insurance professionals: Sean Dalton, Chairman, has created and run leading Lloyd’s syndicates and agents; myself as Managing Director, and Joel S. Peck, CEO, previously launched and managed two top US title insurance companies in Europe.
Secure Legal Title offer hands-on management, deep expertise, as well as an efficient and quick approval process, especially when dealing with non-standard title risks.
Q. Ma cos’è esattamente una “ title insurance”?
A.Title insurance indemnifies against losses arising from both known––and unknown––legal risks related to real estate acquisitions and mortgage finance. Because it reduces risks for property investors and mortgage lenders, title insurance can accelerate transactions and solve issues that might otherwise prevent deals from closing.
Title insurance eliminates legal risks and uncertainties ;facilitates and accelerates cross-border acquisitions and mortgage finance ; frees investors and their lenders from having to understand and self-insure risks inherent in complex legal opinions in various jurisdictions, languages, formats, contexts, and degrees of reliability ; can cover cases of defective title, such as violations of restrictive covenants, by transferring defined risks from real estate buyer or mortgage lender to title insurer ; makes real estate, as well as securitisation markets, more liquid and efficient.
Q. Quali sono “ benefici”, per owners e lenders?
A.For owners, it provides coverage against the ultimate risk of title and property loss ; the full costs of litigation, including attorney fees, to defend against title claims ;defects, liens and charges related to title ; compliance problems with zoning, perpetual usufructs, codes and permits ; legal uncertainty as to the ownership of the property
For lenders, it insures the validity, enforceability and rank of the mortgage ; clean ownership to the underlying property ; mortgage gaps
Q. Cosa “copre”?
A.Title insurance covers losses arising from defects in land titles, including liens, encumbrances, restitution issues, planning, zoning and permitting issues ; registration mistakes ;mortgage registration gaps ;missing documents ;fraud, forgery and error in title documents and registries ; challenges to right of access ; invalidity or unenforceability of insured mortgages ;discrepancies in property description, conflicts in boundary lines, encroachments and other matters addressed by survey . It can also cover specific identified risks, as with UK Legal Indemnity.
Q. E cosa non viene invece “coperto”?
A.Title insurance does not cover post-closing events, such as administrative decisions regarding zoning or permits. It also excludes pending litigation and consequential damages, e.g., business disruption or loss of future profits. It does not cover credit risk (e.g., a payment default by a mortgagor,or a lease default by a tenant or ground lessee), nor does it cover political risks.
Q. Cosa fanno con voi i Lloyd’s of London? Qual è il loro ruolo nel vostro business ?
A. Our capacity is 100% Lloyd’s. The A+ Lloyd’s rating is substantially higher than our competitors, and we have looked at 75 prospective deals in our first year – double our expectation. We believe the longevity of the Lloyd’s name matches nicely with the longevity of some of our policies, and as a new company in a business that is very long-term it is nice to buy into the Lloyd’s brand.
An insurance policy issued by Lloyd’s is underwritten by one or more Lloyd’s syndicates. The insured, however, receives a single Lloyd’s policy. Secure Legal Title deliveres the policy in an electronic format known as a “Market Reform Contract”. A printed copy can also be issued if this is a requirement of the client or jurisdiction.
Q. Perchè in USA gli acquirenti e le banche usano questo strumento da oltre un secolo ?
A. Title insurance was created to allow US banks to provide the same mortgage conditions nationwide, despite laws and regulations that vary from state to state, and even from county to county. This is similar to the situation for multi-jurisdiction transactions in Europe. US buyers rely on title insurance to assure they are getting good title to their property, thus enhcnacing the liquidity of the real estate markets.
Q. Chi può avvalersi di una title insurance?
A.Investors, developers, law firms, corporate end-users , Real estate funds and banks operating across borders , Property sellers , Distressed mortgage debt and real estate equity investors , Issuers of commercial or residential mortgage-backed securities (CMBS/RMBS) …
Q. Come “ funziona”?
A. In the event of a third-party claim challenging the owner’s title or lender’s mortgage, the insurer is responsible for defending against the claim at its expense: If this litigation proves unfavourable, the policyholder is indemnified for his loss, up to a maximum of the amount of the insurance. The premium is paid only once, at closing, and the policy remains valid for the entire duration of ownership, without additional cost or yearly premiums. If the property is bought and sold, a new policy would be required.
Q. Perchè si dovrebbe “acquistare” una title insurance se si dispone già di un parere legale ?
A. Lawyers provide an opinion—title insurance provides an indemnity. Furthermore, cases of fraud are covered by title insurance, but not by lawyers or notaries. A legal opinion, especially in a large commercial transaction, is fundamentally a disclosure document: Counsel carefully defines the state of title and related issues, identifies areas of uncertainty or defect, and carves out exceptions (e.g., fraud), thus putting the investor or lender in the position of having to “take a view” on such risks.
Q. La title insurance modifica il ruolo degli avvocati o dei notai ?
A. Their role remains unchanged. Policies will be underwritten based on the property title due diligence and legal opinions provided by lawyers or notaries in each country. Title insurance can, in fact, be valuable for legal professionals since it: allows deals to move forward that might otherwise be considered too risky, and effectively transfers risk from lawyers and notaries to the title insurance company, thus making it responsible for defending against title and mortgage claims.
Q. Copre anche gli investimenti immobiliari indiretti?
A.Yes. Here the role of title insurance may be even more critical, since acquisitions of shares in real estate companies, or interests in Limited Partnerships, are usually not subject to a contract by a notary or a new entry in a land registry. Therefore, new shareholders, or Limited Partners and their lenders, may not be fully protected by older documents.
It is always possible, and relatively easy, to obtain an update of a title policy that provides full coverage as of the date of the new transaction.
Q. Può essere utile per un venditore di un immobile ?
A.Sale and purchase agreements typically include Reps and Warranties by the seller relating to a number of issues, including title. Sellers can replace these with title insurance and thereby eliminate contingent liabilities affecting their balance sheet, the need for cash collateral and post-closing challenges.
Q Quali sono i costi?
A.Premium will vary based on risk, but usually ranges from 20 – 50 basis points (0.2%-0.5%) of the value of a transaction for a typical risk profile. This premium is paid only once, at closing, and the policy remains valid for the entire duration of ownership, without additional cost or renewal premiums. For a development project, premium payments can be made in stages as the value of the project increases.
Q.Perchè si sottoscrive, “ persino in Europa”, questo tipo di copertura ?
A.For cross-border transactions, title insurance eliminates the burden—and reduces the risks—of co-coordinating the multitude of national ownership protection rules (e.g., Grundbuch in Germany, Cadastre in France and Land Registry in the UK). Transactions are, therefore, safer and easier, particularly important in light of the rising volume of indirect real estate transactions through corporations, funds or Limited Partnerships.
Q. Quale legislazione si applica ?
A. Policies are issued by Lloyd’s of London and are subject to English law. However, title risks covered by the policies are subject to the legal jurisdiction in which the property is located.
Q. In che valuta si può fare ?
A. Policies can be issued in Euros or in Pounds Sterling.
Q. Dove si può fare ?
A. Secure Legal Title provides legal indemnity and title insurance for commercial properties in the UK and throughout Europe, as well as in Turkey..
Q. Quali sono i “numeri” di questo mercato?
A.The US title insurance market was worth over $11bn in premiums in 2012, while the European market was less than €75m ($101.9m) in premiums. In the UK and Europe, it is still a relatively new financial instrument but of increasing importance in protecting cross-border real estate investments, including in Central & Eastern Europe. European business is very different. In Europe each deal has to be assessed separately. We believe European real estate activity would pick up, both in terms of Europeans buying European property and also outside investors – US and Chinese investors are coming back into Europe in a big way.
Q: Come va il mercato , in termini di trend?
-Ownership Risks: Decreasing… but more thorough due diligence has led to an increase in discovery of title flaws, even in countries like France or Germany.
-Restitution Issues: Decreasing… but number of cases has actually increased.
-Sloppy Privatization: Decreasing… but awareness and risk aversion have actually increased the number of cases.
-Regulatory Risks: Increasing . Basel III + AIFMD puts new burden on banks & real estate funds for the accuracy of their ownership representation.
-Lending Risks: Decreasing… but banks increasingly keen on getting belts and suspenders
-Seller’s Risk: Increasing .More buyers reluctant to accept sellers Reps & Warranties.
Q. E , per finire, qual’ è il “ vostro” mercato ?
A. A lot of our business is in Central, Eastern and Western continental Europe, and the hotspot for the last few years has been Poland. Title insurance is still relatively new in Western Europe – in the past people had always assumed that because a cadastral system was in place there was little need for title insurance, but this is changing as investors conduct more intensive due diligence. Facultative business – one-off transactions where one party is buying a property from another party – is our “bread and butter”.The bulk of our deals concern defined risks – for example we are currently working on restitution risks in Poland, and risks that deal with encroachment of buildings in Germany.
Q. OK, ho capito, Italy might emerge..