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OCBC, StanChart close first derivatives trade on benchmark replacing Libor-linked rate

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The OCBC-StanChart trade completed is a one-year interest rate swap fixed against SORA, they said on Thursday.

OCBC Bank and Standard Chartered have completed Singapore’s first overnight indexed swap derivatives transaction using the Singapore Overnight Rate Average (SORA) as the interest rate benchmark.

The SORA is the average rate of unsecured overnight interbank SGD transactions brokered in Singapore. Singapore is transitioning from the use of the Sing-dollar Swap Offer Rate (SOR) to SORA over the next two years, as the scandal-tainted Libor is due to meet its end after 2021.

The SOR - a benchmark used to price derivatives and business loans here - will be impacted given the demise of Libor, as the Singapore rates benchmark uses the US-dollar (USD) Libor in its computation.

The OCBC-StanChart trade completed is a one-year interest rate swap fixed against SORA, they said on Thursday.

In a joint statement, the two banks said this is the "first step to help pave the way for further SORA adoption as an important interest rate benchmark". "As a leading financial centre in Asia, Singapore provides a wide range of hedging instruments that financial market participants can benefit from."

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Daniel Koh, global head of treasury markets, StanChart, said: "This marks a key first step in our efforts in Singapore to develop a vibrant and active interest rate derivatives market based on SORA. We will continue to work with the industry to develop best practices and market conventions to encourage the adoption of SORA-based products.”

Lam Kun Kin, head of global treasury and investment banking, OCBC Bank, said with this first derivatives transaction involving the use of SORA, the banks hope to set out the market conventions for SORA-based products and to develop some baseline activity for market participants to gain confidence in SORA.

"The financial industry needs to come together to build a liquid market to allow for an easier transition to SORA.”

The Libor - short for the London Interbank Offered Rate - has been used as a reference rate for loans and derivatives. But the UK Financial Conduct Authority in 2017 said it would abandon Libor, the interest-rate benchmark on which trillions of transactions globally are priced.

This followed the rigging scandal in 2012, which led to some US$9 billion in fines levied on banks for attempting to manipulate the Libor, rocking the credibility of the major benchmark.

The manipulation concerns ran alongside the problem that while Libor is the dominant benchmark for pricing of loans and derivatives, it has not reflected many actual transactions in the post-crisis period.

The situation left Libor vulnerable to the manipulation that occurred in 2012.

Other major markets, including the US, UK, and Japan, have selected their alternative rates as well.

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