Forward Rate Agreement - FRA

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DEFINITION of 'Forward Rate Agreement - FRA'

An over-the-counter contract between parties that determines the rate of interest, or the currency exchange rate, to be paid or received on an obligation beginning at a future start date. The contract will determine the rates to be used along with the termination date and notional value. On this type of agreement, it is only the differential that is paid on the notional amount of the contract.

Also known as a "future rate agreement".

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BREAKING DOWN 'Forward Rate Agreement - FRA'

Typically, for agreements dealing with interest rates, the parties to the contract will exchange a fixed rate for a variable one. The party paying the fixed rate is usually referred to as the borrower, while the party receiving the fixed rate is referred to as the lender.

For a basic example, assume Company A enters into an FRA with Company B in which Company A will receive a fixed rate of 5% for one year on a principal of $1 million in three years. In return, Company B will receive the one-year LIBOR rate, determined in three years' time, on the principal amount. The agreement will be settled in cash in three years.

If, after three years' time, the LIBOR is at 5.5%, the settlement to the agreement will require that Company A pay Company B. This is because the LIBOR is higher than the fixed rate. Mathematically, $1 million at 5% generates $50,000 of interest for Company A while $1 million at 5.5% generates $55,000 in interest for Company B. Ignoring present values, the net difference between the two amounts is $5,000, which is paid to Company B.

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