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Federal agencies adopt rule protecting legacy swaps in case of no-deal Brexit

Five U.S. federal regulatory agencies have adopted a rule that will allow U.K.-based financial services companies to transfer certain swaps to an EU member state or in the U.S. without triggering new margin requirements under the swap margin rule.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Farm Credit Administration and the Federal Housing Finance Agency said this proposed rule is to address a covered swap entity's ability to service cross-border clients in case the U.K. exits the EU without a deal. A covered swap entity means that one of the five regulatory agencies exercises authority on it.

The five federal agencies issued the swap margin rule in October 2015, which places minimum margin requirements for swaps and security-based swaps not cleared through a clearinghouse, as required under the Dodd-Frank Act. Swaps of small banks, savings associations, Farm Credit System institutions and credit unions with $10 billion or less in total assets are exempted.

In September 2018, the agencies amended the rule to exempt legacy swaps from margin requirements if they are amended only to comply with restrictions imposed on certain qualified financial contracts of systemically important banking organizations.

The swap margin rule was made effective April 1, 2016, and it has a phased-in compliance schedule which will last until Sept. 1, 2020.

The new rule intends to preserve the status quo of legacy swaps, which are exempted from swap margin rule requirements except if they are amended after applicable compliance dates of the rule, for a covered swap entity.

The federal agencies said the proposed rule will permit these transfers for one year after Brexit is effective. In order to benefit from the proposed rule, participating entities must prove that their swap transfers are being made due to the possibility of a no-deal Brexit or their response to a no-deal Brexit.

The agencies are requesting public comment on the rule.