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, has indicated it will no longer compel banks to continue to submit rates beyond 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. However, 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 expected transition to a new benchmark following the widespread use of LIBOR in the financial markets will be a significant event. To prepare, we are:

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

Answers to a few initial questions you may have

What is Key’s position on SOFR?

Since ARRC has recommended SOFR as the replacement for LIBOR, we are moving forward with this assumption and making plans for the transition to SOFR. We will continue to monitor the situation in case anything changes between now and the scheduled implementation.

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.
  • In addition:

    • SOFR represents one overnight borrowing rate.
    • LIBOR includes several rates with varying maturities, ranging from overnight to 12 months.

    All other things being equal, since SOFR is risk-free and has shorter maturities that tend to have lower yields, SOFR may have a lower rate.

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

Key does not yet have details about how and when existing loans will be modified. We will work diligently to have more information for you when the market is ready and our internal preparations are complete.

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.

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

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