March 5, 2021 marks an important day in the LIBOR transition process as the ICE Benchmark Administration (IBA), UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and ISDA made important announcements on the cessation of LIBOR. In recent years the Bank of England and the FCA have made it clear that the lack of an active underlying market makes LIBOR unsustainable and unsuitable for widespread use. As a result, the Bank of England and FCA have worked closely with market participants and other regulatory authorities to ensure alternatives to LIBOR are available and that existing contracts can be transitioned onto these alternatives to safeguard financial stability and market integrity.

With today’s announcements by the IBA, FCA and ISDA, the timeline for the cessation of LIBOR has been fixed.

Continue Reading Mark the Date: Important Announcements by IBA, FCA and ISDA

As the end of Q1 2021 draws closer, the Working Group on Sterling Risk-Free Reference Rates (the Working Group) published a Q&A that aims to address the end-Q1 milestone for no new GBP LIBOR lending and a best practice guide for GBP referencing loans (the Best Practice Guide) on February 26, 2021.

As discussed in our previous blog post (which can be found here), the Working Group recommended that market participants should not initiate new GBP LIBOR referencing loan products expiring post 2021, after the end of Q1 2021. The Q&A has been prepared to highlight considerations that market participants should take into account and addresses important questions in relation to the end-Q1 milestone.

Continue Reading GBP Working Group publishes Q&A and Best Practice Guide

On November 20, 2020, the working group on euro risk-free rates (the Euro Working Group) published two consultations on fallback rates to EURIBOR. Market participants were invited to provide their views on the potential events that could trigger fallback measures and the fallback rates based on the euro short-term rate (€STR) and spread adjustment methodologies. The results of the consultations show that market participants are not in agreement on all matters relating to transitioning from EURIBOR to €STR.

Continue Reading A Market Divided: EURIBOR Consultation Shows a Divide Among Market Participants

On February 15, 2021, the UK Treasury published a consultation paper on potential legal ‘safe harbor’ rules for legacy LIBOR-referencing contracts which have been amended by the Financial Conduct Authority (the FCA) under the Financial Services Bill.

Continue Reading UK HM Treasury Consults on Safe Harbor Rules for Legacy LIBOR Contracts

The U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency published a three-page self-assessment tool for national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches and agencies of foreign banking organizations to evaluate their preparedness for the expected cessation of LIBOR. The three-page “tool” poses a series of questions for each bank to answer in a self-assessment.  According to the agency, these questions can be used to assess:

  • the appropriateness of a bank’s LIBOR transition plan;
  • bank management’s execution of the bank’s transition plan; and
  • related oversight and reporting.

The agency pointed out that LIBOR cessation preparedness assessments “should be risk based,” and tailored to the size and complexity of each bank’s LIBOR exposures. The OCC clearly expects each bank to conduct the self-assessment in accordance with its LIBOR risks, but not all sections or questions will apply depending on the nature and extent of the bank’s LIBOR exposure. For example, the OCC noted that community banks may not offer products that use LIBOR, but “could have exposure in such positions as Federal Home Loan Banks borrowings, mortgage-backed securities, or bonds in the banks’ investment portfolios.”

In announcing the self-assessment tool, the OCC also pointed back to the LIBOR-transition guidance that it and the other banking agencies provided on November 30, 2020.  That guidance encouraged banks to transition away from U.S. Dollar LIBOR “as soon as practicable” and, in any event, to “cease entering into new contracts that use USD LIBOR as a reference rate” by December 31, 2021.  In light of that guidance, the OCC statement accompanying the “tool” said that “in 2021, LIBOR exposure and risk assessments and cessation preparedness plans should be at least near completion with appropriate management oversight and reporting in place.”  Most banks, the agency added, “should be working toward resolving replacement rate issues while communicating with affected customers and third parties, as applicable.”

On February 13, 2021, the European Union’s (EU) amendments to the Benchmarks Regulation (2016/1011) (the Amended BMR) came into force, which provides a legislative fix for the cessation of LIBOR in legacy contracts. The Amended BMR gives the European Commission (the Commission) the power to replace critical benchmarks and other relevant benchmarks if their termination would significantly disrupt or otherwise affect the functioning of the financial markets in the EU.

Continue Reading European Union’s Legislative Fix for the Cessation of LIBOR

On January 28, 2021, the UK Loan Market Association (LMA) published exposure drafts of two multicurrency term and revolving facilities agreements which incorporate, among others, backward-looking compounded risk-free rates (the Exposure Drafts). In addition, the LMA published commentary on the Exposure Drafts, which aims to assist market participants in understanding the terms thereof. The Exposure Drafts are based on the LMA’s exposure draft switch rate agreements discussed in our earlier blog post. The LMA hopes that their publication will facilitate awareness of the issues involved in structuring multicurrency syndicated loans which use backward-looking compounded risk-free rates (RFRs).

Continue Reading LMA Publishes RFR Facility Documentation

ISDA’s IBOR Fallbacks Supplement and Protocol came into effect today. These fallbacks, which are discussed in more detail here, will be incorporated with immediate effect into all new derivatives contracts which incorporate the 2006 ISDA Definitions, and in all legacy non-cleared derivatives where both parties have adhered to ISDA’s IBOR Fallbacks Protocol. To date, over 12,000 parties have adhered to the Protocol, which remains open for adherence for the foreseeable future.

Continue Reading Key Date Reminder: ISDA’s IBOR Fallbacks Goes Live

With the end of LIBOR in sight, on January 11, 2021 the Bank of England, FCA and Working Group on Sterling Risk-Free Reference Rates (the Working Group) published a joint statement on the final countdown to the ceasing of publications of all GBP LIBOR settings at the end of 2021 and an updated 2021 Roadmap to assist business in their preparations for the LIBOR transition. Market participant are encouraged to take the Working Group’s updated roadmap into consideration in the transition plans for 2021.

Continue Reading Roadmap to the End of LIBOR – Where Are You?

With the end of LIBOR drawing closer, the FCA, Bank of England and the Working Group on Sterling Risk-Free Reference Rates (the Working Group) are encouraging market participants to actively transition from referencing LIBOR rates in their loan agreements to risk-free rates (such as SONIA). In this respect, one important aspect that market participants need to consider is the credit spread adjustment (CAS) that will be required. Market participants use a CAS to mitigate the risk of value transfer when transitioning to risk-free rates due to the difference between LIBOR rates and the risk-free rates, caused by the lack of a credit risk premium in risk-free rates.

Continue Reading UK Working Group Publishes Paper on Credit Adjustment Spread Methodologies