Cadwalader creates flood risk bond to protect City

US firm Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft has been instructed to advise on the world’s first bond designed to protect London’s business districts from large-scale flooding.

The flood bond, which was launched on the capital markets earlier this month, was structured by Swiss Re, which was advised by panel firm Cadwalader, for an arm of German insurance company Allianz.

Allianz issued the $150m (£74.97m) bond in order to transfer potential losses incurred if the City or Canary Wharf flooded, as well as for earthquake damage in Canada and the US.

Lead partner of the Cadwalader team Malcolm Wattman said: “Lots of investors are becoming more heavily involved in catastrophe bonds. This was driven in the US by Hurricane Katrina.”

While catastrophe bonds are common in the US, they have only recently become more popular in other jurisdictions, including the UK.

Wattman said: “There are already some key players involved with catastrophe bonds in the UK. Swiss Re and ABN Amro are definitely up there. We’ve seen a lot of activity in the US and this is something we as a firm are familiar with.”

The bonds are designed to take advantage of fully secured instruments in the capital markets rather than tapping the reinsurance market.

Wattman said: “If a city was to flood, is it better to turn to reinsurance or to a special purpose vehicle that’s collateralised? I think the capital markets are a viable option in this scenario.”

Sullivan & Cromwell partner William Torchiana led the team advising Allianz.