The Wall Street Journal reported on July 2, 2015 that many investors may suffer losses as a result of the attempts by Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to restructure its debt with its creditors in order to avoid a default and other Puerto Rico economic woes.
While clearly many investors are and will continue to be harmed in this market, the pain is likely to be harder felt by two sets of victims of UBS’s closed-end bond funds that are tied to debt issued by PREPA, other utilities and Puerto Rico’s general obligation bonds.
We recently wrote regarding how the brokers who recommend products such as UBS’s closed-end funds may have also been given faulty information from the firm. Then, Reuters ran an article describing a taped meeting at UBS where leadership threatened the UBS Puerto Rico brokers to sell the closed-end funds at all costs despite growing concerns about the products. In one of the first arbitration awards to be announced in which UBS was ordered to pay $1 million to an investor related to the UBS closed-end bond funds, a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitrator stated that a recommendation of the bond fund was unsuitable because it was “grossly overconcentrated… any proper UBS branch office or other review should have detected such obvious unsuitability.”