The SEC published a statement that encourages market participants to proactively manage their transition away from LIBOR and outlines several potential areas that may warrant increased attention during that time. It is expected that parties reporting information used to set LIBOR will stop doing so after 2021.
As LIBOR is used extensively in the U.S. and globally as a benchmark rate to set interest rates for various commercial and financial contracts, the discontinuation of LIBOR could have a significant impact on financial markets and may present a material risk for market participants, including public companies, investment advisers, investment companies, and broker-dealers. These risks will be exacerbated if the work necessary to effect an orderly transition to an alternative reference rate is not completed in a timely manner.
The statement encourages market participants to identify existing contracts that extend past 2021 to determine their exposure to LIBOR and to consider whether contracts entered into in the future should reference an alternative rate to LIBOR or include effective fallback language. The statement also contains specific guidance for how registrants might respond to risks associated with the discontinuation of LIBOR.
The SEC encourages companies to consider the following guidance:
- The evaluation and mitigation of risks related to the expected discontinuation of LIBOR may span several reporting periods. Consider disclosing the status of company efforts to date and the significant matters yet to be addressed.
- When a company has identified a material exposure to LIBOR but does not yet know or cannot yet reasonably estimate the expected impact, consider disclosing that fact.
- Disclosures that allow investors to see this issue through the eyes of management are likely to be the most useful for investors. This may entail sharing information used by management and the board in assessing and monitoring how transitioning from LIBOR to an alternative reference rate may affect the company. This could include qualitative disclosures and, when material, quantitative disclosures, such as the notional value of contracts referencing LIBOR and extending past 2021.