On August 30, The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced the transition of the interest rate benchmark from SOR to SORA. The USD reliant Swap Offer Rate (SOR) will cease to be relevant upon the imminent discontinuation of the USD Libor or the London Inter-bank Offered Rate. The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) and the Singapore Foreign Exchange Market Committee (ABS-SFEMC) studied several replacement options and concluded on the viability of SORA.
What is SORA?
The Singapore Overnight Rate Average (SORA) is an interest rate benchmark pegged on actual transactions. It is the weighted average rate of all overnight cash transactions brokered in Singapore from 9:00 am to 6:15 pm and is published daily on the MAS website at about 6:30 pm.
Why is there a need to transition?
The UK regulatory authorities recently announced the discontinuance of the USD Libor by the end of 2021. This will take away one of the major inputs in the computation of SOR. The volume-weighted average forex rate of USD and SGD is another SOR factor that is looked into as extraneous and causes extreme volatility of rates.
Are there any options aside from adopting SORA?
Aside from adopting SORA, ABS-SFEMC is also looking into two other options – reforming SOR and enhancing SIBOR. Reforming SOR would mean replacing USD Libor with another component. In the US, the Alternative Reference Rate Committee (AARC), endorsed the recommended alternative, the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR). The SOFR is published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York at about 8:00 am and is the overnight measure of the cost of borrowing money. However, producing forward-looking benchmarks using SOFR is too complex. Furthermore, SOFR is not intended for the derivatives market and is not expected to be in use until late 2021.
Enhancing the SIBOR is looked into as another option to SOR. The SIBOR (Singapore Interbank Offered Rate) reflects the rate at which banks are willing to lend and is already in use in various financial products, but not on derivatives. However, due to the structural shifts in banks’ sources of funding and derivatives markets towards overnight interest rates benchmark referencing, this option proves to be unsustainable.
Why is SORA the recommended option?
SORA is liquid and deeply reflects the daily trends and conditions of the SGD money markets. Using SORA as a benchmark is aligned with global trends and the transition will result in significant synergies in the global trading capabilities of derivatives. This will put the SGD market ahead in the global trends, encourage and apply best practices and keep domestic derivatives competitive and attractive in the global markets. Daily SORA has been published by the MAS since July 2005, providing accurate data for historical analyses on prices, risks, and market trends.
What happens to legacy SOR contracts?
Existing SOR contracts which will expire after 2021 will remain as is for now. However, expect your bank to notify you regarding the transition in due time. They will provide alternative loan packages that will replace the current SOR-referenced contract to be applied to its remaining term.
How will the transition impact corporate borrowers?
The transition from SOR to SORA is deemed favorable to corporate borrowers. The elimination of the USD/SGD forex factor in the interest rate computation will hugely improve the volatility of rates. The compounded 6-month SORA is more stable and lower than SIBOR, SOR and other benchmarks.
There will be no immediate impact before the end of 2021 and existing SOR referenced contracts will remain as is. MAS and ABS-SFEMC are keeping close tabs on the transition process, making sure the market functions continuously, with the least disruption and hassle to end-users as possible.
Ample communication and public information dissemination will be in place, while banks will be required to provide their clients with enough time, information, and guidance on loan restructuring and contract switching as necessary. Corporate service providers in Singapore such as accounting firms and business outsourcing firms will also be on hand to assist their clients in a smooth transition.
Connect with Mighty Glory today to know more about the transition and to discuss your financial contracts and options. We look forward to helping you with your business needs and in meeting your company compliance requirements in Singapore by providing you with the efficient and holistic solutions.