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LIBOR transition at LGT

The reference interest rate LIBOR will be replaced at the end of 2021. A project team is dealing with the effects of the conversion of processes, systems and products within LGT and is implementing the necessary measures. On this page you will find all relevant information about the LIBOR transition. The page is updated regularly.

FAQ

1. What is LIBOR?

Interbank Offered Rates (IBORs), which include LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate), are reference interest rates that have been published since 1986 and are used to calculate the cost of short-term, unsecured loans. A defined group of banks (the so-called contributor panel banks) provide daily estimates of their interest rates for a number of currencies and tenors, the average value of which is calculated and published. They are used as reference rates for financial products. These include mortgages, other loans, floating rate notes, structured products and derivatives. They often also serve as a basis for valuations or calculations, for example for performance-based fees for investment funds. The interest amount that can be expected at the end of the contract period for longer-term IBOR based contracts are already known on the day the transaction is concluded – this is one of the significant differences to the new reference rates. Further information can be found under point 5.

2. Why is LIBOR being replaced?

In 2011, manipulations of the reference rates LIBOR, Euro Interbank Offered Rate (EURIBOR) and Tokyo Interbank Offered Rate (TIBOR) were uncovered. LIBOR is based on the market estimates of a few banks and can therefore deviate slightly from market conditions. A review of the main reference rates conducted in 2013 showed that even after reforms to strengthen the methodology, certain risks relating to the stability and reliability of IBORs could not be completely ruled out. The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) therefore decided in 2017 to no longer require the panel banks to provide LIBOR reports from the end of 2021. The announcement by the UK Financial Conduct Authority triggered the process to replace the IBOR reference rates.

The new reference rates are coordinated by the Financial Stability Board (FSB) on behalf of the G20 countries. In addition to central banks and supervisory authorities, an international group of financial market participants from the banking sector is also involved. The latter is examining alternative reference rates that better meet the needs of the market and the requirements of the supervisory authorities in the longer term. The focus here is on improving the transparency, methodology and supervision of reference rates in order to ultimately restore the representativity and confidence of market participants.

3. What are the alternatives to IBORs?

Instead of IBORs, so-called alternative reference rates (ARRs)1 will be applied. Working groups from various nations and currency areas are working to define and establish these new reference rates, whose calculation mechanism varies from currency to currency.

In contrast to the IBORs, the ARRs are no longer based on estimates, but are linked to active and actually traded call money rates and are therefore considered robust, transparent and almost impossible to manipulate. What all the new rates have in common is that the effective interest amount is only known at the end of an interest calculating period if it is longer than one day. This results in the need for extensive adjustments, which the LGT project team will implement for the client.

Here you find an overview of various ARRs:

The Swiss National Bank and the stock exchange operator SIX will in future issue and use SARON (Swiss Average Rate Overnight). The average interest rate is calculated based on priced transactions in the order book of the SIX Repo platform. The determination of the interest rate is subject to constant monitoring. In the eurozone, LIBOR and the Euro OverNight Index Average (EONIA) will be replaced by ESTR (Eurozone Short Term Rate). The reformed EURIBOR, on the other hand, is considered compliant and will therefore not be replaced by ESTR.

In the US, the USD LIBOR will be replaced by the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR). The SOFR is an interest rate that is paid for overnight borrowing secured by US government bonds. It is calculated and published daily by the Federal Reserve in New York in cooperation with the Office of Financial Research. The UK will use the Sterling Overnight Index Average (SONIA), which was launched by the London Wholesale Market Brokers Association in 1997.

For clients, the new ARR interest rates offer advantages because – unlike IBORs – they are based on market transactions and are monitored accordingly.

1 The name varies depending on the region. In the UK, the term "Risk-free rate" (RFR) is commonly used, in the US the term "Alternative reference rate" (ARR) is used. In this document, the alternative reference rates are designated as "ARRs".

4. When will the new ARRs start to apply?

The UK Financial Conduct Authority in 2017 announced it no longer requires LIBOR panel banks to report LIBOR from the end of 2021. The new ARRs will apply from that time at the latest; but can be utilized earlier. Recommendations have already been made not to launch any more LIBOR based contracts with immediate effect.

5. How are the ARRs calculated?

Although ARRs will functionally replace LIBOR as a benchmark in global financial markets, it is important to understand that they are calculated in fundamentally different ways.

The new ARR based contracts are calculated daily based on these ARRs – meaning that the exact interest rate is available at the end of the contract’s term. As a result, the final valuations at the end of the contract term are always only available retrospectively – this is a key difference to the previous IBOR method.

6. What are the biggest challenges of the changeover?

Before the changeover from IBORs to ARRs can take place, a number of issues still need to be resolved. Here is a non-exhaustive list of the challenges: 

  • Fallback language: 
    A “fallback language” must still be defined in contracts: in some cases, existing contracts that refer to LIBOR lack provisions for the event that LIBOR is no longer used or is no longer representative. 
    In concrete terms, there is therefore no answer to the following question: which interest rates apply to existing contracts if LIBOR is no longer published and has to be replaced?
  • Regions without ARRs: 
    For two Asian reference rates, no potential ARRs exist yet whatsoever; namely for India and the Philippines.. 
  • The level of preparation of the parties concerned:
    Not all banks have exactly the same changeover schedule – it is therefore important to contact the respective counterparties early on and to discuss the affected contracts with regard to the changeover. . 

7. How does LGT prepare for the changeover?

The changeover to new reference rates is a major challenge for financial institutions worldwide – and LGT is no exception. It is necessary to identify contracts, products, documents, calculation methods and the necessary master data that must be adjusted to the new rates in order to guarantee high-quality processing for LGT clients. Processes, data and documents are affected. Several departments, including IT, are working closely together in the LIBOR Transition project in order to implement the necessary measures and are regularly informing LGT management about the status of the project.

LGT is closely involved in the transition process and is in active communication with external stakeholders. LGT is a member of the National Working Group for Reference Interest Rates of Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Employees are also represented in SIX working groups.

In summary, the following should be noted:

  • Starting from 2021, no IBOR based contracts are to be issued.
  • From 2021, the panel banks will no longer publish LIBOR.
  • Existing IBOR based contracts are to be adjusted in a timely manner or replaced by new ARR-based contracts.
  • In contrast to IBOR contracts, ARRs are valued using a transparent daily calculation.
  • Here is a summary of the key differences: The new ARRs do not contain bank loans or term premia. The new ARRs are overnight rates – there are no future-oriented risk-free interest rates yet. The new ARRs use rates that are set daily (compounded overnight in arrears), which means the contract’s effective interest rate will only be known at the end of the interest calculation period. Forward-looking interest rates for ARRs could still be available for specific scenarios, such as the year-end valuation of contracts, but the timing for the provision of such ARRs remains to be defined by the regulator. Depending on the market, the ARRs are secured or unsecured.
  • Industry bodies and regulatory authorities are providing guidance, but many issues still need to be resolved for the changeover to be successful. Regulators and industry bodies are in close contact with each other regarding these matters.