Tuesday, January 4, 2022

RBI Notifies Transition to its Benchmark Rates from Overseas Borrowings

 With the imminent discontinuation of the publication of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) by the end of 2021 for most currencies, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) by its circular dated 8 December 2021 (Circular) amended the RBI’s Master Direction - External Commercial Borrowings, Trade Credits and Structured Obligations dated 26 March 2019 (ECB Master Directions) to provide for a risk free benchmark rate as an alternative to the LIBOR (which has been used since inception for majority foreign currency borrowings).

LIBOR has been a preferred benchmark rate for the syndicated loan markets and as a pricing source by financial markets globally and in India for a wide array of financial instruments including loans and derivative products. In view of the cessation of publication of LIBOR, the RBI in August 2020 had indicated to all the banks and the financial institutions to frame a board-approved plan, outlining an assessment of exposures linked to the LIBOR and the steps to be taken to address risks arising from the cessation of LIBOR, including preparation for the adoption of the Alternative Reference Rates (ARR) and putting in place a framework to mitigate risks arising from such exposures on account of transitional issues including valuation and contractual clauses.

The amendments to the ECB Master Directions provide much-needed clarity to the financial institutions, hedge providers and borrowers on the new applicable alternative reference rates for external commercial borrowings and encourage them to use any widely accepted ARRs as soon as practicable in lieu of the cessation of LIBOR from December 2021.