Saturday, 11 July 2020

OCBC Bank and CapitaLand sign Singapore’s first SORA-based loan agreement

OCBC Bank and CapitaLand have inked Singapore’s first loan facility agreement referencing Singapore Overnight Rate Average (SORA). The $108 million (SGD 150 million) three-year corporate loan from OCBC Bank to CapitaLand is a milestone in the industry’s transition roadmap towards adopting SORA as the new interest rate benchmark for the Singapore Dollar cash and derivatives markets.

The $108 million (SGD 150 million) loan is part of a $216 million (SGD 300 million) sustainability-linked loan extended by OCBC Bank to CapitaLand. Proceeds from the facility will be used for general corporate purposes. 

The loan facility’s interest rate, which references SORA, comprises two components: (1) a compounded average of daily SORA rates calculated in arrears and (2) an applicable margin.  

SORA is a backward-looking overnight rate as compared to forward-looking reference rates commonly used for loan facilities in Singapore, such as the SGD Swap Offer Rate (SOR) where the interest rate is determined at the start of the interest period. To determine the interest rate of a SORA-based loan facility, the daily SORA rates are compounded in arrears and the interest rate is determined by the end of the relevant interest period. 

Globally, several major jurisdictions have identified overnight rates as alternative benchmark rates to LIBOR in their respective currencies, and the industry is trending towards the use of backward-looking, compounded-in-arrears rates.

For Singapore’s inaugural SORA-based loan facility, the compounded average SORA will be calculated in arrears, using the ‘five-business day backward-shifted observation period’ methodology. 

The use of a compounded average SORA calculated in arrears has several benefits:   

OCBC Bank had previously executed Singapore’s first overnight indexed swap derivatives transaction using SORA as the reference rate in November 2019. It was also a party to the first Singapore dollar interest rate swap referencing SORA, cleared by LCH global clearing house in May 2020.   

In August 2019, the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) and the Singapore Foreign Exchange Market Committee identified SORA as the most suitable interest rate benchmark to replace the SOR. This change is necessary as the long-term viability of SOR, which utilises the USD LIBOR in its computation, would be impacted by the expected discontinuation of the USD LIBOR after 31 December 2021. 

An industry-led Steering Committee for the transition (SC-STS), comprising senior representatives from key banks, relevant industry associations and MAS was established in August 2019. Chaired by Samuel Tsien, OCBC Group’s CEO and ABS’ chairman, the SC-STS is responsible for providing strategic direction on industry proposals to develop new products and markets based on SORA and to engage with stakeholders to seek feedback and raise awareness on issues related to the transition from SOR to SORA. 

OCBC Bank’s head of global corporate banking Elaine Lam said, “We are pleased to be working with CapitaLand on Singapore’s first SORA-pegged loan, which is an important first step for the industry transition from SOR to SORA. This deal will provide guidance for the development of SORA-pegged loans, pave the way for greater market acceptance and help such loans gain traction in the market. This landmark SORA-pegged loan, being a sustainability-linked loan, deeply resonates with OCBC’s and CapitaLand’s shared commitment to advancing green finance in Singapore.”

CapitaLand’s group chief financial officer Andrew Lim said, “CapitaLand’s pioneer adoption of the SORA-based loan enables us to contribute to how SORA will be understood, structured and priced, in the process preparing the groundwork for mainstream adoption in the future. It also positions CapitaLand well as we embark on our own gradual transition. With the support of a like-minded partner in OCBC, we are able to dovetail this important innovation in Singapore’s financial ecosystem with our commitment to our environmental, social and governance efforts. We will continue to advocate and pursue responsible growth and sustainability as a group.”

In total, CapitaLand and its real estate investment trusts have raised over $1.96 billion (SGD 2.72 billion) in less than two years through sustainable financing. 

Re-disseminated by The Asian Banker

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