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# What is a Put Swaption?

Companies need more certainty in managing loan interest costs with fluctuating interest rates. Put swaptions offer an effective hedge against this risk.

This read explains a put swaption, its benefits in locking in fixed payer rates, the parties involved, pricing concepts, and specific applications across banking and corporate treasury functions.

Understanding put swaptions equips finance teams with insights on customising appropriate hedges against rate hikes.

## Understanding put swaptions

A put swaption is a type of financial derivative that gives the buyer the right, but not the obligation, to enter into an interest rate swap as the fixed rate payer. Put swaptions allow companies to hedge against the risk of rising interest rates.

## What is a swaption?

A swaption is an option on a forward starting interest rate swap. It gives the buyer the right to enter into a swap contract. There are two main types of swaptions – call swaptions and put swaptions.

• A call swaption gives the right to enter a swap as the fixed rate receiver.
• A put swaption gives the right to enter a swap as the fixed rate payer.

## What is a put swaption?

A put swaption, or payer swaption for short, is a financial agreement allowing the buyer to pay a set interest rate and receive a variable interest rate later. It’s a type of contract that can be useful for managing financial risks and uncertainties.

Banks and companies may buy swaptions as a hedge against rising interest rates. Here is an example:

Ramesh runs a manufacturing company that has taken a ₹5 crore loan from a bank at a floating interest rate of 6% per annum. He worries that interest rates may rise, increasing his interest repayment costs.

To protect against this risk, Ramesh enters into a put swaption contract with a bank. He pays an upfront premium of ₹10 lakhs to purchase the put swaption.

The put swaption allows Ramesh the right to enter into an interest rate swap in 1 year where:

• He pays a fixed interest rate of 8%
• He receives a floating interest rate (for example, the 6-month MIBOR rate)

If interest rates rise above 8% in one year, Ramesh will exercise his put swaption and enter the swap. This will lock him into paying 8% fixed interest while he receives a higher floating rate. This offsets the impact of rising interest rates on his original loan.

If rates fall below 8%, he can let his put swaption expire unexercised. But either way, the maximum he loses is the ₹10 lakh premium paid upfront. The put swaption protects him from extreme rate hikes.

## Parties to a put swaption

There are two parties in a put swaption contract – the buyer and the seller:

• Buyer – The buyer pays an upfront premium to purchase the right to exercise the put swaption in the future. They are protected against rising interest rates.
• Seller – The seller of the put swaption receives the premium upfront. If the buyer exercises the put swaption in the future, the seller will be obligated to enter the swap contract as the fixed rate receiver.

In Ramesh’s example, Ramesh is the put swaption buyer, while the bank is the seller.

## Benefits of a put swaption

Here are some key benefits of using a put swaption:

1. Protection from rising rates – The defining benefit is that it hedges against increasing interest rates. Buyers offset the impact of hikes by locking in a fixed payer rate.

2. Customisable terms – Parties can customise the swaption terms like fixed rate, floating benchmark, expiry, and notional amount per risk management needs.

3. Known maximum risk – When someone buys a financial product called a swap, they pay an upfront cost to limit their potential losses. The swap only becomes active if there is a significant increase in interest rates.

In summary, Ramesh gains stability by limiting interest repayment risk through a put swaption. The fixed payer swaption protects his loan cash flows from extreme rate hikes.

While put swaptions offer effective hedging, they do come with some disadvantages:

1. Upfront premium cost – The option premium can be expensive depending on market volatility and tenure.

2. Basis risk – Differences may exist between the swap fixed rate and actual loan rates. This is known as basis risk.

3. Preceding gains – Buyers lose out if interest rates fall below their fixed payer swap rate. But the premium cost caps the maximum loss.

In Ramesh’s case, he may rue paying ₹10 lakhs if rates fall to 5% in a year. But by limiting his downside risk, Ramesh can sleep easier at night!

## Use of put swaptions

Banks, corporations, and institutional investors use swaptions to limit interest rate risk in their asset-liability portfolios. Specific applications include:

• Hedging floating rate loans
• Hedging bonds/securities against rate hikes
• Hedging interest rate derivatives like swaps/FRAs

Ramesh used his put to hedge loan risk. However, banks may use portfolio swaptions to mitigate risks across treasury desks.

## Valuation and pricing

As customised OTC deals, swaption premiums are negotiated case-by-case. But certain factors impact values:

• Market volatility – Higher volatility means a higher premium
• Tenure – Longer-dated options cost more
• Interest rate levels – Premiums rise if market rates rise

Banks use complex quantitative pricing models accounting for the above factors. The most common valuation model used is the Black-Scholes pricing formula.

## Conclusion

A put swaption is a versatile instrument offering adequate protection against financial risks from rising interest rates. Banks, companies and institutional investors frequently use it for prudent risk management. Though premium costs and foregone gains exist, the protection on downside risk makes put swaptions a valuable hedging tool for uncertain interest rate environments.

## FAQs

What is a put swaption?

A put swaption is a type of financial agreement that allows the buyer to have the option to enter into a contract to exchange interest rates at a fixed rate in the future. This agreement helps protect against the possibility of interest rates going up.

Who are the parties involved in a put swaption agreement?

There are two parties in a put swaption contract – the buyer, who pays an upfront premium for the right, and the seller, who receives the premium payment and may have to enter the swap contract later if the option is exercised.

How can a manufacturing company like Ramesh Industries benefit from a put swaption?

Ramesh Industries can purchase a put swaption from a bank to hedge their ₹5 crore floating rate loan, shielding them from extreme hikes in interest repayment costs in the future by locking in a fixed payer rate.

What risks does the buyer of a payer swaption assume?

The maximum risk a put swaption buyer assumes is losing the upfront premium paid if interest rates fall instead of rising. They also forego any gains from lower rates.

How are swaption premium amounts usually decided between the two parties?

Swaption premiums are determined case-by-case between the two contracting parties based on market volatility, option expiry period, interest rate levels and pricing models like Black-Scholes.

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