Understanding LIBOR

LIBOR, which stands for the London Interbank Offered Rate, is a benchmark rate that represents the amount banks would pay to borrow from each other on an unsecured basis. To determine the benchmark rate, a panel of banks submits estimates of what they would charge the other banks for short-term loans.

The LIBOR benchmark rate is used to help set the cost of government and corporate bonds, mortgages, student loans, credit cards, derivatives, and other financial products. As LIBOR fluctuates, loan rates can move up or down.

LIBOR is now being phased out

For over 40 years, LIBOR has played a significant role in the worldwide financial services industry. However, an ongoing slowdown in unsecured bank debt market activity has now diluted LIBOR’s relevance. As the volume of this interbank lending has declined, the underlying market that LIBOR strives to measure is no longer sufficiently active to produce a reliable benchmark. As a result, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which oversees the rate, announced on March 5, 2021, that all LIBOR benchmark settings will cease to be published on these dates:

LIBOR TenorsAnnounced Final LIBOR Publication Date
1-week and 2-month U.S. Dollar LIBOR tenorsDecember 31, 2021
Overnight, 1-month, 3-month, 6-month and 12-month U.S. Dollar LIBOR tenorsJune 30, 2023
All LIBOR tenors for GBP, EUR, CHF and JPYDecember 31, 2021

U.S. regulators have jointly issued supervisory guidance to stop originating new LIBOR business as soon as practicable, and no later than December 31, 2021. Therefore, it’s critical for LIBOR to be replaced by the end of 2021 with a stronger, more reliable benchmark.

Replacing LIBOR

The Alternative Reference Rate Committee (ARRC), a financial industry group, has recommended using the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) to replace LIBOR. It is important to note that the ARRC was convened by the Federal Reserve Board and the New York Fed specifically to help facilitate the U.S. transition away from LIBOR. Members include a mix of banks, accounting firms, legal firms and other industry representatives.

We’ll be ready and keep you updated

The transition to a new benchmark following the widespread use of LIBOR in the financial markets is a significant event. To prepare, we are:

  • Closely monitoring LIBOR developments and devoting all necessary resources to its transition, with an enterprise-wide initiative to address every opportunity and issue involved
  • Working with regulators and industry groups to see how we can tailor their recommendations to our specific client segments
  • Providing information and updates as they become available on this page for you

Frequently asked questions about the LIBOR transition

What is KeyBank’s position on SOFR?

Since ARRC has recommended SOFR as the replacement for LIBOR, we are moving forward with this assumption and offering certain products—including residential and commercial mortgages and some commercial loans—using SOFR. We will continue to monitor the situation in case anything changes.

How is SOFR different from LIBOR?

SOFR and LIBOR are calculated differently:

  • SOFR is based on actual transactions and is considered a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by Treasury Securities, a secure, risk-free measure.
  • LIBOR is set by a panel of banks estimating what they think their borrowing costs are for unsecured debt.

All other things being equal, since SOFR is risk-free, SOFR may have a lower rate.

When and how will my LIBOR-based loan be modified?

Although banks have been advised not to originate new LIBOR loans after 2021, the most commonly used U.S. dollar LIBOR options will continue to be published until June 30, 2023. KeyBank is monitoring legislative and industry developments and will contact you with more information when appropriate.

Will my interest rate change if SOFR becomes the new benchmark?

At this time, we do not have specific details on how existing LIBOR-based rates may be affected by the switch to a SOFR-based rate. We will be fair and as transparent as possible and provide details as they become available.

Is KeyBank following the ISDA protocol?

KeyBank has elected to follow the International Swaps and Derivatives Association’s (ISDA) 2020 IBOR Fallbacks Protocol. Visit ISDA.org to read KeyBank’s adherence letter and view the list of adhering parties. If you, too, adhere to the Protocol, then swaps entered into between us before January 25, 2021, will be deemed amended to incorporate the Protocol’s fallback provisions. For swaps entered into on or after January 25, 2021, the 2006 ISDA definitions (which contain the relevant fallback language similar to that contained in the Protocol) are incorporated.

KeyBank does not require, and cannot recommend or advise, a borrower to adhere to the Protocol. The decision on whether to adhere is entirely the borrower’s decision to make. KeyBank can accommodate borrowers who adhere to the Protocol or do not adhere to the Protocol.

Should I be doing anything differently with hedging now or in the near future?

KeyBank will work with our clients to assist them in pursuing consistent trigger and fallback language, to the extent possible, so that any hedge instrument remains as effective as possible once the transition has been completed.

Where can I find additional information or speak with someone about LIBOR?

Contact us by email with your questions about the LIBOR transition.