By Sarka Halas
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
LONDON -(Dow Jones)- The final membership of the new Markit iTraxx Europe and Crossover indices has been announced by Markit in a report Thursday, with the changed scheduled set to roll out March 20.
Three new names have been added to the iTraxx Europe index, which comprises 125 high-grade borrowers, 25 of which are banks and insurers.
French construction and communications group Bouygues SA (EN.FR), Rolls-Royce PLC (ROLLS)--making a reappearance after being removed at the last roll--and HSBC Bank PLC (HSBC) have all been added to the list.
"HSBC is one of the strongest financial institutions in Europe and its spreads are currently trading tighter than any other bank in the Markit iTraxx Europe," said Gavan Nolan, analyst at Markit in the report.
Three names have been removed from the index after all failed to meet the ratings criteria. They are Finmeccanica SpA (FINMEC), Banco Popolare (BPSC) and ArcelorMittal (ARMLL).
Finmeccanica and Banco Popolare are based in Italy, and have suffered from that country becoming embroiled in the euro-zone debt crisis.
Nolan noted that Banco Popolare has rallied considerably in recent months thanks to the European Central Bank's injections of cheap three-year loans into the banking system, and investors taking a more sanguine view of Italy. But its credit standing still pales in comparison to HSBC.
In the Crossover series, which comprises 40 mostly sub-investment-grade European corporate borrowers, Arcelor Mittal (ARMLL), Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LUFTHA), Finmeccanica SpA and Jaguar Land Rover PLC (JAGULAN) have all been added.
In addition to the usual eligibility criteria, these companies must also have issued a minimum of EUR500 million of new debt over the past 12 months in a currency which is deliverable in a credit default swap contract.
Clariant AG (CLAR), Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA (FSEKGA) and Smurfit Kappa Funding PLC (MDPAC-SKF) were removed because their spreads are too tight.
Scandinavian Airlines System Denmark-Norway-Sweden (SAS-ScanAirSys) does not have sufficient amounts of debt outstanding to qualify for inclusion, added Nolan in the report.
Credit default swaps are derivatives that function like a default insurance contract for debt. If a borrower defaults, sellers compensate buyers.
-By Sarka Halas, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 (0) 207 842 9236; Sarka.Halasova@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 15, 2012 10:51 ET (14:51 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.