Category: Chapter X: Financial Transactions

The 2015 BEPS Action Plan reports on Action 4 (Limiting base erosion involving interest deductions and other financial payments) and Actions 8-10 (Aligning Transfer Pricing Outcomes with Value Creation) mandated follow-up work on the transfer pricing aspects of financial transactions. In particular, Action 4 of the BEPS Action Plan called for the development of:

“…transfer pricing guidance … regarding the pricing of related party financial transactions, including financial and performance guarantees, derivatives (including internal derivatives used in intra-bank dealings), and captive and other insurance arrangements.”

Under these mandates, the Committee on Fiscal Affairs produced a non-consensus discussion draft on financial transactions in July 2018. The discussion draft aimed to clarify the application of the principles included in the 2017 edition of the OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines (the “Guidelines”), in particular, the accurate delineation analysis under Chapter I, to financial transactions. It also provided guidance with specific issues relating to the pricing of loans, cash pooling, financial guarantees, and captive insurance.

The guidance contained in this report takes account of comments received in response to the public discussion draft. This guidance is significant because it is the first time the Guidelines will be updated to include guidance on the transfer pricing aspects of financial transactions, which should contribute to consistency in the application of transfer pricing and help avoid transfer pricing disputes and double taxation. Sections A to E of this report will be included in the Guidelines as Chapter X. The guidance in Section F of this report will be added to Section D.1.2.1 in Chapter I of the Guidelines, immediately following paragraph 1.106.

This report describes the transfer pricing aspects of financial transactions, including a number of examples to illustrate the principles discussed. Section B provides guidance on the application of the principles contained in Section D.1 of Chapter I of the Guidelines to financial transactions. In particular, Section B.1 of this report elaborates on how the accurate delineation analysis under Chapter I applies to the capital structure of an MNE within an MNE group. It also clarifies that the guidance included in that section does not prevent countries from implementing approaches to address capital structure and interest deductibility under their domestic legislation. Section B.2 outlines the economically relevant characteristics that inform the analysis of the terms and conditions of financial transactions.

Sections C, D and E of this report address specific issues related to the pricing of financial transactions (e.g. treasury functions, intra-group loans, cash pooling, hedging, guarantees and captive insurance). This analysis elaborates on both the accurate delineation and the pricing of the controlled financial transactions. Finally, Section F provides guidance on how to determine a risk-free rate of return and a risk-adjusted rate of return.

Chapter X paragraph 10.1

The purpose of this Chapter is to provide guidance for determining whether the conditions of certain financial transactions between associated enterprises are consistent with the arm’s length principle.

Chapter X paragraph 10.2

Section B describes the application of the principles of Section D.1 of Chapter I to financial transactions. Section C provides guidance on determining the arm’s length conditions for treasury activities including intra-group loans, cash pooling and hedging. Section D examines financial guarantees, and Section E outlines the analysis of captive insurance companies.

Chapter X paragraph 10.3

The conditions of financial transactions between independent enterprises will be the result of various commercial considerations. In contrast, an MNE group has the discretion to decide upon those conditions within the MNE group. Thus, in an intra-group situation, other considerations such as tax consequences may also be present.

Chapter X paragraph 10.4

It may be the case that the balance of debt and equity funding of a borrowing entity that is part of an MNE group differs from that which would exist if it were an independent entity operating under the same or similar circumstances. This situation may affect the amount of interest payable by the borrowing entity and so may affect the profits accruing in a given jurisdiction.

Chapter X paragraph 10.5

Commentary to Article 9 of the OECD Model Tax Convention notes at paragraph 3(b) that Article 9 is relevant “not only in determining whether the rate of interest provided for in a loan contract is an arm’s length rate, but also whether a prima facie loan can be regarded as a loan or should be regarded as some other kind of payment, in particular a contribution to equity capital.”

Chapter X paragraph 10.6

In the context of the preceding paragraphs, this subsection elaborates on how the concepts of Chapter I, in particular the accurate delineation of the actual transaction under Section D.1, may relate to the balance of debt and equity funding of an entity within an MNE group.

Chapter X paragraph 10.7

Where it is considered that the arrangements made in relation to the transaction, viewed in their totality, differ from those which would have been adopted by independent enterprises behaving in a commercially rational manner in comparable circumstances, the guidance at Section D.2 of Chapter I may also be relevant.

Chapter X paragraph 10.8

Although this guidance reflects an approach of accurate delineation of the actual transaction in accordance with Chapter I to determine the amount of debt to be priced, it is acknowledged that other approaches may be taken to address the issue of the balance of debt and equity funding of an entity under domestic legislation before pricing the interest on the debt so determined. These approaches may include a multi-factor analysis of the characteristics of the instrument and the issuer.

Chapter X paragraph 10.9

Accordingly, this guidance is not intended to prevent countries from implementing approaches to address the balance of debt and equity funding of an entity and interest deductibility under domestic legislation, nor does it seek to mandate accurate delineation under Chapter I as the only approach for determining whether purported debt should be respected as debt.

Chapter X paragraph 10.10

Although countries may have different views on the application of Article 9 to determine the balance of debt and equity funding of an entity within an MNE group, the purpose of this section is to provide guidance for countries that use the accurate delineation under Chapter I to determine whether a purported loan should be regarded as a loan for tax purposes (or should be regarded as some other kind of payment, in particular a contribution to equity capital).

Chapter X paragraph 10.11

Particular labels or descriptions assigned to financial transactions do not constrain the transfer pricing analysis. Each situation must be examined on its own merits, and subject to the prefatory language in the previous paragraph, accurate delineation of the actual transaction under Chapter I will precede any pricing attempt.

Chapter X paragraph 10.12

In accurately delineating an advance of funds, the following economically relevant characteristics may be useful indicators, depending on the facts and circumstances: the presence or absence of a fixed repayment date; the obligation to pay interest; the right to enforce payment of principal and interest; the status of the funder in comparison to regular corporate creditors; the existence of financial covenants and security; the source of interest payments; the ability of the recipient of the funds to obtain loans from unrelated lending institutions; the extent to which the advance is used to acquire capital assets; and the failure of the purported debtor to repay on the due date or to seek a postponement.

Chapter X paragraph 10.13

For example, consider a situation in which Company B, a member of an MNE group, needs additional funding for its business activities. In this scenario, Company B receives an advance of funds from related Company C, which is denominated as a loan with a term of 10 years. Assume that, in light of all good-faith financial projections of Company B for the next 10 years, it is clear that Company B would be unable to service a loan of such an amount. Based on facts and circumstances, it can be concluded that an unrelated party would not be willing to provide such a loan to Company B due to its inability to repay the advance. Accordingly, the accurately delineated amount of Company C’s loan to Company B for transfer pricing purposes would be a function of the maximum amount that an unrelated lender would have been willing to advance to Company B, and the maximum amount that an unrelated borrower in comparable circumstances would have been willing to borrow from Company C, including the possibilities of not lending or borrowing any amount (see comments upon “The lender’s and borrower’s perspectives” in Section C.1.1.1 of this chapter). Consequently, the remainder of Company C’s advance to Company B would not be delineated as a loan for the purposes of determining the amount of interest which Company B would have paid at arm’s length.

Chapter X paragraph 10.14

In determining the arm’s length conditions of financial transactions, the same principles apply as described in Chapters I-III of these Guidelines for any other controlled transaction.

Chapter X paragraph 10.15

As with any controlled transaction, the accurate delineation of financial transactions requires an analysis of the factors affecting the performance of businesses in the industry sector in which the MNE group operates. Because differences exist among industry sectors, factors such as the particular point of an economic, business or product cycle, the effect of government regulations, or the availability of financial resources in a given industry are relevant features that have to be considered to accurately delineate the controlled transaction. This examination will take account of the fact that MNE groups operating in different sectors may require, for example, different amounts and types of financing due to different capital intensity levels between industries, or may require different levels of short-term cash balances due to different commercial needs between industries. Where the relevant MNEs are regulated, such as financial services entities subject to regulations consistent with recognised industry standards (e.g. Basel requirements), due regard should be had to the constraints those regulations impose upon them.

Chapter X paragraph 10.16

As described in Chapter I, the process of accurate delineation of the actual transaction also requires an understanding of how the particular MNE group responds to those identified factors. In this regard, the MNE group’s policies may inform the accurate delineation of the actual transaction through the consideration of, for instance, how the MNE group prioritises the funding needs among different projects; the strategic significance of a particular MNE within the MNE group; whether the MNE group is targeting a specific credit rating or debt-equity ratio; or whether the MNE group is adopting a different funding strategy than the one observed in its industry sector (see Section B.3.5).

Chapter X paragraph 10.17

In accordance with the guidance established in Chapter I, the accurate delineation of the actual transaction should begin with a thorough identification of the economically relevant characteristics of the transaction – consisting of the commercial or financial relations between the parties and the conditions and economically relevant circumstances attaching to those relations –, including: an examination of the contractual terms of the transaction, the functions performed, assets used, and risks assumed, the characteristics of the financial instruments, the economic circumstances of the parties and of the market, and the business strategies pursued by the parties.

Chapter X paragraph 10.18

In common with the analysis of any other transaction between associated enterprises, in applying the arm’s length principle to a financial transaction it is necessary to consider the conditions that independent parties would have agreed to in comparable circumstances.

Chapter X paragraph 10.19

Independent enterprises, when considering whether to enter into a particular financial transaction, will consider all other options realistically available to them, and will only enter into the transaction if they see no alternative that offers a clearly more attractive opportunity to meet their commercial objectives (see paragraph 1.38 of Chapter I). In considering the options realistically available, the perspective of each of the parties to the transaction must be considered. For instance, in the case of an entity that advances funds, other investment opportunities may be contemplated, taking account of the specific business objectives of the lender and the context in which the transaction takes place. From the borrower’s perspective, the options realistically available will include broader considerations than the entity’s ability to service its debt, for example, the funds it actually needs to meet its operational requirements. In some instances, although an entity may have the capacity to borrow and service an additional amount of debt, it may choose not to do so to avoid placing negative pressure on its credit rating and increasing its cost of capital, and jeopardising its access to capital markets and its market reputation (see comments upon “The lender’s and borrower’s perspectives” in Section C.1.1.1 of this chapter).

Chapter X paragraph 10.20

In an ideal scenario, a comparability analysis would enable the identification of financial transactions between independent parties which match the tested transaction in all respects. With the many variables involved, it is more likely that potential comparables will differ from the tested transaction. Where differences exist between the tested transaction and any proposed comparable, it will be necessary to consider whether such differences will have a material impact on the price. If so, it may be possible, where appropriate, to make comparability adjustments to improve the reliability of a comparable. This is more likely to be achievable where the adjustment is based on a quantitative factor and there is good quality data easily available (e.g. on currency differences) than, for instance, in trying to compare loans to borrowers with qualitative differences or where data is not so readily available (e.g. borrowers with different business strategies).

Chapter X paragraph 10.21

To inform an analysis of the terms and conditions of a financial transaction as part of the accurate delineation of the actual transaction or seeking to price the accurately delineated actual transaction, the following economically relevant characteristics should be considered.

Chapter X paragraph 10.22

The terms and conditions of a financial transaction between independent enterprises are usually explicitly stated in a written agreement. However, between associated enterprises the contractual arrangements may not always provide information in sufficient detail or may be inconsistent with the actual conduct of the parties or other facts and circumstances. It is therefore necessary to look to other documents, the actual conduct of the parties – notwithstanding that such consideration may ultimately result in the conclusion that the contractual form and actual conduct are in alignment – and the economic principles that generally govern relationships between independent enterprises in comparable circumstances in order to accurately delineate the actual transaction in accordance with Section D.1.1 of Chapter I.

Chapter X paragraph 10.23

In accurately delineating the actual financial transaction, a functional analysis is necessary. This analysis seeks to identify the functions performed, the assets used and the risks assumed by the parties to that controlled transaction.

Chapter X paragraph 10.24

For instance, in the particular case of an intra-group loan, the key functions performed by a lender to decide whether and under which terms to advance funds would typically include an analysis and evaluation of the risks inherent in the loan, the capability to commit capital of the business to the investment, determining the terms of the loan and organising and documenting the loan. This may also include any ongoing monitoring and periodic review of the loan. Such a functional analysis is likely to include consideration of similar information to that which a commercial lender or ratings agency would consider in determining the creditworthiness of the borrower. An associated lender will not necessarily perform all of the same functions at the same intensity as an independent lender. However, in considering whether a loan has been advanced on conditions which would have been made between independent enterprises, the same commercial considerations and economic circumstances are relevant (see comments on “The lender’s and borrower’s perspectives” and “Use of credit ratings” in Sections C.1.1.1 and C.1.1.2 of this chapter).

Chapter X paragraph 10.25

When, under accurate delineation, the lender is not exercising control over the risks associated to an advance of funds, or does not have the financial capacity to assume the risks, such risks should be allocated to the enterprise exercising control and having the financial capacity to assume the risk (see paragraph 1.98 of Chapter I). For instance, consider a situation where Company A advances funds to Company B. Consider further that the accurate delineation of the actual transaction indicates that Company A does not exercise control functions related to the advance of funds but that Company P, the parent company of the MNE group, is exercising control over those risks, and has the financial capacity to assume such risks. Under Chapter I analysis, Company P will bear the consequences of the playing out of such risks and Company A will be entitled to no more than a risk-free return (see Section D.1.2.1 in Chapter I).

Chapter X paragraph 10.26

From the perspective of the borrower, the relevant functions would usually refer to ensuring the availability of funds to repay the principal and the interest on the loan in due time; providing collateral, if needed; and monitoring and fulfilling any other obligation derived from the loan contract (see comments upon “The lender’s and borrower’s perspectives” in Section C.1.1.1 of this chapter).

Chapter X paragraph 10.27

In some instances, the functions of the lender and the borrower may be undertaken by the same entity in different transactions. That could be the case, for example, of centralised treasury activities within an MNE group where the treasury entity raises and provides funds to other members of the MNE group. In those circumstances, the functional analysis should consider the applicability of the guidance in Section C of this chapter, and, in particular, paragraphs 10.44 and 10.45.

Chapter X paragraph 10.28

There is a wide variety of financial instruments in the open market that present very different features and attributes, which may affect the pricing of those products or services. Consequently, when pricing controlled transactions, it is important to document the transactions’ features and attributes.

Chapter X paragraph 10.29

For instance in the case of a loan, those characteristics may include but are not limited to: the amount of the loan; its maturity; the schedule of repayment; the nature or purpose of the loan (trade credit, merger/acquisition, mortgage, etc.); level of seniority and subordination, geographical location of the borrower; currency; collateral provided; presence and quality of any guarantee; and whether the interest rate is fixed or floating.

Chapter X paragraph 10.30

To achieve comparability requires that the markets in which the independent and associated enterprises operate do not have differences that have a material effect on price or that appropriate adjustments can be made.

Chapter X paragraph 10.31

The prices of financial instruments may vary substantially on the basis of underlying economic circumstances, for example, across different currencies, geographic locations, local regulations, the business sector of the borrower and the timing of the transaction.

Chapter X paragraph 10.32

Macroeconomic trends such as central bank lending rates or interbank reference rates, and financial market events like a credit crisis, can affect prices. In this regard, the precise timing of the issue of a financial instrument in the primary market or the selection of comparable data in the secondary market can therefore be very significant in terms of comparability. For instance, it is not likely that multiple year data on loan issuances will provide useful comparables. The opposite is more likely to be true, i.e. that the closer in timing a comparable loan issuance is to the issuance of the tested transaction, the less the likelihood of different economic factors prevailing, notwithstanding that particular events can cause rapid changes in lending markets.

Chapter X paragraph 10.33

Currency differences are another potentially important factor. Economic factors such as growth rate, inflation rate, and the volatility of exchange rates, mean that otherwise similar financial instruments issued in different currencies may have different prices. Moreover, prices for financial instruments in the same currency may vary across financial markets or countries due to regulations such as interest rate controls, exchange rate controls, foreign exchange restrictions and other legal and practical restrictions on financial market access.

Chapter X paragraph 10.34

Business strategies must also be examined in accurately delineating the actual financial transaction and in determining comparability for transfer pricing purposes since different business strategies can have a significant effect on the terms and conditions which would be agreed between independent enterprises.

Chapter X paragraph 10.35

For example, independent lenders may be prepared to lend on terms and conditions to an enterprise undertaking a merger or acquisition which might otherwise not be acceptable to the lender for the same business if it were in a steady state. In this kind of scenario, the lender may take a view over the term of the loan and consider the borrower’s business plans and forecasts, effectively acknowledging that there will be temporary changes in the financial metrics of the business for a period as it undergoes changes. Section D.1.5 of Chapter I gives other examples of business strategies that must be examined in accurately delineating the actual transaction and determining comparability.

Chapter X paragraph 10.36

The analysis of the business strategies will also include consideration of the MNE group’s global financing policy, and the identification of existing relationships between the associated enterprises such as pre-existing loans and shareholder interests (see Annex I to Chapter V of these Guidelines about the information to be included in the master file).

Chapter X paragraph 10.37

For example, consider that Company A, a member of AB Group, advances funds with a term of 10 years to an associated enterprise, Company B, which will use the funding for short-term working capital purposes. This advance is the only loan in Company B’s balance sheet. AB Group’s policy and practices demonstrate that the MNE group uses a one-year revolving loan to manage short-term working capital. In this scenario, under the prevailing facts and circumstances, the accurate delineation of the actual transaction may conclude that an unrelated borrower under the same conditions of Company B would not enter into a 10-year loan agreement to manage its short-term working capital needs and the transaction would be accurately delineated as a one-year revolving loan rather than a 10-year loan. The consequences of this delineation would be that assuming the working capital requirements continue to exist, the pricing approach would be to price a series of refreshed one-year revolver loans.

Chapter X paragraph 10.38

In any case, the reliability of results is generally improved to the extent comparable borrowers pursue similar business strategies to the tested borrower involved in an intra-group transaction.

Chapter X paragraph 10.39

For MNE groups, the management of group finances is an important and potentially complex activity where the approach adopted by individual businesses will depend on the structure of the business itself, its business strategy, place in the business cycle, industry sector, currencies of operation, etc.

Chapter X paragraph 10.40

The organisation of the treasury will depend on the structure of a given MNE group and the complexity of its operations. Different treasury structures involve different degrees of centralisation. In the most decentralised form, each MNE within the MNE group has full autonomy over its financial transactions. Decentralised treasury structures may be present, for instance, in MNE groups with multiple operating divisions that operate in discrete industries or with regional hub structures, or in MNE groups required to comply with specific local regulations. At the opposite end of the scale, a centralised treasury has full control over the financial transactions of the MNE group, with entities within the MNE group responsible for operational but not financial matters.

Chapter X paragraph 10.41

A key function of a corporate treasury may be, for example, to optimise liquidity across the MNE group to ensure that the business has sufficient cash available and that it is in the right place when it is needed and in the right currency. In general, efficient management of MNE group liquidity is driven by considerations above the level of individual entities, and acts to help mitigate risk across a number of entities.

Chapter X paragraph 10.42

Whilst the treasury’s cash and liquidity management function is concerned with day-to-day operations, corporate financial management is concerned with development of strategies and planning for investment decisions in the longer term. Financial risk management requires identification and analysis of, and responses to, the financial risks to which the business is exposed. By identifying and taking action to address financial risk, treasury can help to optimise the cost of capital to the advantage of the users of the MNE group’s treasury services.

Chapter X paragraph 10.43

Other examples of activities which the treasury may have responsibility for include raising debt (through bond issuances, bank loans or otherwise) and raising equity, and managing the relationship with the MNE group’s external bankers and with independent credit rating agencies.

Chapter X paragraph 10.44

When evaluating the transfer pricing issues related to treasury activities, as with any case, it is important to accurately delineate the actual transactions and determine exactly what functions an entity is carrying on rather than to rely to any extent upon a general description such as “treasury activities”.

Chapter X paragraph 10.45

Generally, the treasury function is part of the process of making the financing of the commercial business of the MNE group as efficient as possible. As such, the treasury function will usually be a support service to the main value-creating operation as in the case, for example, of the services provided by a cash pool leader (see Section C.2.3). Depending on the facts and circumstances of each case, such activities may be services in which case the pricing guidance on intra-group services at Chapter VII applies.

Chapter X paragraph 10.46

Similarly, the treasury may act as the contact point to centralise the external borrowing of the MNE group. External funds would then be made available within the MNE group through intra-group lending provided by the treasury. On prevailing facts and circumstances, guidance in paragraph 1.168 of Chapter I would apply to these situations and the treasury would be expected to receive an arm’s length fee for its coordination activities.

Chapter X paragraph 10.47

In other situations, the treasury may be found to perform more complex functions and, therefore, it should be compensated accordingly.

Chapter X paragraph 10.48

Another key concern regarding treasury activities is the identification and allocation of the economically significant risks in accordance with Chapter I.

Chapter X paragraph 10.49

The activities of the treasury function take into account issues at a group level and follow the vision, strategy and policies set out by MNE group management. Accordingly, the approach of the treasury to risk will depend on the MNE group’s policy where certain objectives may be specified, such as targeted levels of investment return (e.g. the yield must exceed the cost of capital), reduced cash flow volatility, or targeted balance sheet ratios (e.g. assets to liabilities). Therefore, it is important to note that usually the higher strategic decisions will generally be the result of policy set at group level rather than determined by the treasury itself.

Chapter X paragraph 10.50

The following sections outline the transfer pricing considerations which arise from some relevant treasury activities that are often performed within MNE groups, i.e. the provision of intra-group loans, cash pooling, and hedging activities.

Chapter X paragraph 10.51

In considering the commercial and financial relations between the associated borrower and lender, and in an analysis of the economically relevant characteristics of the transaction, both the lender’s and borrower’s perspectives should be taken into account, acknowledging that these perspectives may not align in every case.

Chapter X paragraph 10.52

As in any other transfer pricing scenarios, the guidance in Section D.1 of Chapter I applies to determine whether the lender and the borrower assume risks related to intra-group loans. In particular, it is important to consider the risks that the funding arrangements carry for the party providing the funds, and the risks related to the acceptance and use of the funds from the perspective of the recipient. These risks will relate to repayment of the amount transferred, compensation expected for the use of that amount over time, and compensation for other associated risk factors.

Chapter X paragraph 10.53

The lender’s perspective in the decision of whether to make a loan, how much to lend, and on what terms, will involve evaluation of various factors relating to the borrower, wider economic factors affecting both the borrower and the lender, and other options realistically available to the lender for the use of the funds.

Chapter X paragraph 10.54

An independent lender will carry out a thorough credit assessment of the potential borrower to enable the lender to identify and evaluate the risks involved and to consider methods of monitoring and managing these risks. That credit assessment will include understanding the business itself as well as the purpose of the loan, how it is to be structured and the source of its repayment which may include analysis of the borrower’s cash flow forecasts and the strength of the borrower’s balance sheet.

Chapter X paragraph 10.55

When an enterprise is making a loan to an associated enterprise, it will not necessarily follow all of the same processes as an independent lender. For example, it may not need to go through the same process of information gathering about the borrower’s business, as the required information may already be readily available within the MNE group. However, in considering whether the loan has been made on conditions which would have been made between independent enterprises, the same commercial considerations such as creditworthiness, credit risk and economic circumstances are relevant.

Chapter X paragraph 10.56

In the case of a loan from the parent entity of an MNE group to a subsidiary, the parent already has control and ownership of the subsidiary, which would make the granting of security less relevant to its risk analysis as a lender. Therefore, in evaluating the pricing of a loan between associated enterprises it is important to consider that the absence of contractual rights over the assets of the borrowing entity does not necessarily reflect the economic reality of the risk inherent in the loan. If the assets of the business are not already pledged as security elsewhere, it will be appropriate to consider under Chapter I analysis whether those assets are available to act as collateral for the otherwise unsecured loan and the consequential impact upon the pricing of the loan.

Chapter X paragraph 10.57

Credit risk for the lender is the potential that the borrower will fail to meet its payment obligations in accordance with the terms of the loan. In deciding whether a prospective loan is a good commercial opportunity, a lender will also consider the potential impact of changes which could happen in economic conditions affecting the credit risk it bears, not only in relation to the conditions of the borrower but in relation to potential changes in economic conditions, such as a rise in interest rates, or the exposure of the borrower to movements in exchange rates.

Chapter X paragraph 10.58

Borrowers seek to optimise their weighted average cost of capital and to have the right funding available to meet both short-term needs and long-term objectives. When considering the options realistically available to it, an independent business seeking funding operating in its own commercial interests will seek the most cost effective solution, with regard to the business strategy it has adopted. For example in respect of collateral, in some circumstances, assuming that the business has suitable collateral to offer, this would usually be secured funding, ahead of unsecured funding, recognising that a business’s collateral assets and its funding requirements may differ over time, e.g. because collateral is finite, the decision to pledge collateral on a particular borrowing precludes the borrower from pledging that same collateral on a subsequent borrowing. Therefore, an MNE pledging collateral would take into account its options realistically available regarding its overall financing (e.g. possible subsequent loan transactions).

Chapter X paragraph 10.59

Borrowers will also consider the potential impact of changes in economic conditions such as interest rates and exchange rates, as well as the risk of not being able to make timely payments of interest and principal on the loan if the borrower’s business encounters unexpected difficulties, and the risk of not being able to raise more capital (either debt or equity) if necessary.

Chapter X paragraph 10.60

Macroeconomic circumstances may lead to changes in the financing costs in the market. In such a context, a transfer pricing analysis with regard to the possibilities of the borrower or the lender to renegotiate the terms of the loan to benefit from better conditions will be informed by the options realistically available to both the borrower and the lender.

Chapter X paragraph 10.61

The economic conditions of loans should also be viewed in the context of regulations that may affect the position of the parties. For example, insolvency law in the jurisdiction of the borrower may provide that liabilities towards associated enterprises are subordinated to liabilities towards unrelated parties.

Chapter X paragraph 10.62

The creditworthiness of the borrower is one of the main factors that independent investors take into account in determining an interest rate to charge. Credit ratings can serve as a useful measure of creditworthiness and therefore help to identify potential comparables or to apply economic models in the context of related party transactions. Furthermore, in the case of intra-group loans and other financial instruments that are the subject of controlled transactions, the effect of group membership may be an economically relevant factor that affects the pricing of these instruments. Accordingly, this subsection elaborates on the use of credit ratings and the effect of group membership in the context of pricing intra- group loans. Where appropriate, reference to this subsection will be made in other parts of this guidance.

Chapter X paragraph 10.63

Credit ratings can be determined for the overall creditworthiness of an MNE or MNE group4 or for a specific issuance of debt. As detailed in the following paragraphs, determining credit ratings requires consideration of quantitative – e.g. financial information – and qualitative factors – e.g. industry and country in which the MNE or MNE group operates.

Chapter X paragraph 10.64

The credit rating of an MNE or MNE group (usually referred to as the “issuer credit rating”) is an opinion about its general creditworthiness. Such an opinion is usually premised on the MNE or MNE group’s capacity and willingness to meet its financial obligations in accordance with the terms of those obligations. The credit rating of an MNE or MNE group is effectively a form of relative ranking of the creditworthiness in comparison to other borrowers. In general, a lower credit rating will indicate a greater risk of default and be expected to result in a higher rate of return for lenders.

Chapter X paragraph 10.65

Information is readily available in many lending markets on the different rates of interest charged for differently rated enterprises and such information may usefully contribute to performing comparability analyses. Financing transactions that the borrowing MNE or another MNE within the group has with external lenders may also be reliable comparables for interest rates charged by associated enterprises (see paragraphs 10.94 and 10.95). Financing transactions undertaken by the borrowing MNE or another entity in the MNE group, for example the MNE group parent, will be reliable comparables only where the differences between the controlled and uncontrolled transactions do not materially affect the interest rate or reasonably accurate adjustments can be made.

Chapter X paragraph 10.66

As a credit rating depends on a combination of quantitative and qualitative factors, there is still likely to be some variance in creditworthiness between borrowers with the same credit rating. In addition, when making comparisons between borrowers using the kind of financial metrics typically seen as important to lenders, such as debt-earnings or debt-equity ratios, it is important to note that the same financial metrics will not necessarily result in the same credit rating if there are other differences between the rated parties. For example, it may require stronger financial metrics to obtain a given rating in some industries than to obtain the same rating for a borrower in other industries. More intrinsically risky industries and those with less stable revenue streams tend to require better financial ratios in order to obtain the same rating.

Chapter X paragraph 10.67

There may be special circumstances, such as in the case of start-up entities, or those that have recently been part of a merger, that may have an impact on the credit rating of a group entity. These special situations should be taken into consideration.

Chapter X paragraph 10.68

It is important that the MNE group appropriately documents the reasons and selection of the credit rating used for a particular MNE when pricing intra-group loans and other controlled financial transactions.

Chapter X paragraph 10.69

The credit rating of a particular debt issuance (“issue rating”) is an opinion about the creditworthiness of the issuer with respect to a specific financial instrument. The issue rating considers specific features of the financial instrument, for instance, guarantees, securities and level of seniority.

Chapter X paragraph 10.70

The credit rating of an MNE or MNE group may differ from an issue rating due to the fact that the credit risk of a financial instrument is linked to its specific features and not only to the risk profile of the borrowing MNE. On prevailing facts and circumstances, and provided there is comparability between the third party debt issuance and the controlled transaction, when both an issuer and issue ratings are available, the issue rating of the particular debt issuance would be more appropriate to use to price the controlled financial transaction.

Chapter X paragraph 10.71

Particular considerations should be borne in mind when determining a credit rating for a specific MNE within an MNE group for the purpose of assessing controlled transactions. Where an MNE has a publicly available credit rating published by an independent credit rating agency, that rating may be informative for an arm’s length analysis of the MNE’s controlled financing transactions. However, in most cases, publicly available credit ratings are only available for the MNE group. An approach often used for a specific MNE is to apply quantitative and qualitative analyses of the individual characteristics of the MNE using publicly available financial tools or independent credit rating agencies’ methodologies to seek to replicate the process used to determine the credit rating of the MNE group. This approach also involves taking into account improvements in creditworthiness that the specific MNE would be assumed to receive as a result of being part of the MNE group.

Chapter X paragraph 10.72

Publicly available financial tools are designed to calculate credit ratings. Broadly, these tools depend on approaches such as calculating the probability of default and of the likely loss should default occur to arrive at an implied rating for the borrowing. This can then be compared to a market database in a search for comparables to arrive at a price or price range for the borrowing. In considering whether the application of these tools results in a reliable assessment of the credit rating of controlled transactions, potential issues that need to be borne in mind include that the results are not based on a direct comparison with transactions between independent parties but are subject to the accuracy of the input parameters, a tendency to rely more on quantitative inputs at the expense of qualitative factors, and a lack of clarity in the processes (i.e. the workings of the underlying algorithms and processes may not be transparent).

Chapter X paragraph 10.73

The credit rating methodology used in publicly available financial tools may differ significantly in certain respects from the credit rating methodologies applied by independent credit rating agencies to determine official credit ratings and the impact of any such differences should be carefully considered. For instance, publicly available tools generally use only a limited sample of quantitative data to determine a credit rating. Official credit ratings published by independent credit rating agencies are derived as a result of far more rigorous analysis that includes quantitative analysis of historic and forecast entity performance as well as detailed qualitative analysis of, for instance, management’s ability to manage the entity, industry specific features and the entity’s market share in its industry.

Chapter X paragraph 10.74

For these reasons, the reliability of credit rating results derived from the use of publicly available financial tools may be improved to the extent the analysis can reproducibly demonstrate consistency of ratings using such tools with those provided by independent credit rating agencies.

Chapter X paragraph 10.75

In conducting a credit rating analysis, it is important to note that the financial metrics may be influenced by current and past controlled transactions (such as sales, or interest expenses). If it appears that such controlled transactions are not in accordance with the arm’s length principle, the credit rating derived in light of such intra-group transactions may not be reliable. (See also guidance in section B). These considerations apply both to controlled transactions that may affect the current earnings of the MNE and to previous funding and other intra-group transactions that may have had an impact on the measures of income and capital of the MNE that are the subject of quantitative analysis.

Chapter X paragraph 10.76

The effect of group membership is relevant for informing the conditions under which an MNE would have borrowed from an independent lender at arm’s length in two ways in particular. Firstly, the external funding policies and practices of group management will assist in informing the form and terms and conditions of the debt the MNE would have entered into with an independent lender, including the pricing (i.e. interest rate paid), and all economically relevant characteristics such as the type of loan, its term, currency, security, covenants, business strategies, and so forth. Secondly, the MNE may receive support from the group to meet its financial obligations in the event of the borrower getting into financial difficulty. Paragraph 1.158 of Chapter I of these Guidelines is relevant to analyse the effect of group membership on the terms and conditions of a borrowing when the borrowing MNE obtains an incidental benefit arising solely by virtue of group affiliation, i.e. passive association.

Chapter X paragraph 10.77

In the context of intra-group loans, this incidental benefit that the MNE is assumed to receive solely by virtue of group affiliation, is referred to as implicit support. The effect of potential group support on the credit rating of an entity and any effect on that entity’s ability to borrow or the interest rate paid on those borrowings would not require any payment or comparability adjustment. See Example 1 at paragraphs 1.164 – 1.166 of Chapter I and Section D.3.

Chapter X paragraph 10.78

Implicit support from the group may affect the credit rating of the borrower or the rating of any debt which it issues. The relative status of an entity within the group may help determine what impact that potential group support has on the credit rating of a debt issuer. Entities of an MNE group will be more or less likely to receive group support according to the relative importance of the entity to the MNE group as a whole and the linkages between the entity and the rest of the MNE group, either in its current form or in terms of future strategy. An MNE group member with stronger links, that is integral to the group’s identity or important to its future strategy, typically operating in the group’s core business, would ordinarily be more likely to be supported by other MNE group members and consequently have a credit rating more closely linked to that of the MNE group. Conversely, it may be reasonable to assume that an entity would be likely to receive support from the rest of the MNE group in more limited circumstances where it does not show those same indicators or the linkages are weaker. In the case of an entity where there is evidence that no support would be provided by the MNE group, it may be appropriate on the prevailing facts and circumstances to consider the entity on the basis of its own stand-alone credit rating only.

Chapter X paragraph 10.79

Another key consideration would be the likely consequences for other parts of the MNE group of supporting or not supporting the borrower. The criteria used to determine the status of an entity in this regard may include such considerations as legal obligations (e.g. regulatory requirements), strategic importance, operational integration and significance, shared name, potential reputational impacts, negative effects on the overall MNE group, general statement of policy or intent, and any history of support and common behaviour of the MNE group with respect to third parties. The relative relevance of those factors may vary from one industry to another.

Chapter X paragraph 10.80

The impact of an assessment of implicit support is a matter of judgement. The kind of information on which the MNE group would base a decision of whether or not to provide support to a borrower in particular circumstances may not be available to a tax administration, as is frequently the case in transfer pricing examinations, and the existence of information asymmetry may affect the ability of tax administrations to establish the likelihood of support (see section B.2 in Chapter IV). Furthermore, changing facts and circumstances affecting the willingness or ability of the MNE group to provide support may mean that there is no decision by the MNE group itself until the eventuality for such support arises. This contrasts, for example, where the MNE receives a formal guarantee from another group member. The past behaviour of an MNE group as regards providing support may be a useful indicator of likely future behaviour but an appropriate analysis should be undertaken to identify whether different conditions apply.

Chapter X paragraph 10.81

It is also important to note that although there are established approaches to estimate a credit rating for a particular group member or debt issuance, the considerations detailed above mean that a pricing approach based on the separate entity credit ratings that are derived from publicly available financial tools (see paragraph 10.72), the implicit support analysis, the difficulties of accounting for controlled transactions reliably and the presence of information asymmetry may pose challenges that, if not resolved, may result in outcomes that are not reliable.

Chapter X paragraph 10.82

Where this is the case, the credit rating of the MNE group may also be used for the purpose of pricing the accurately delineated loan where the facts so indicate, particularly in situations such as where the MNE is important to the group as described in paragraphs 10.78 and 10.79 and where the MNE’s indicators of creditworthiness do not differ significantly from those of the group. An MNE group credit rating is unaffected by controlled transactions and reflects the actual basis on which the group seeks external funding from independent lenders. In situations where an MNE group does not have an external credit rating, consideration may be given to conducting the credit rating analysis at the MNE group level for assessing the controlled transaction. In all cases, the MNE group credit rating, like any other credit rating, will be appropriate only if it is determined to be the most reliable indicator of the MNE credit rating in light of all the facts and circumstances.

Chapter X paragraph 10.83

The purpose of covenants in a loan agreement is generally to provide a degree of protection to the lender and so limit its risk. That protection may be in the form of incurrence covenants or maintenance covenants.

Chapter X paragraph 10.84

Incurrence covenants require or prohibit certain actions by the borrower without the consent of the lender. Incurrence covenants may, for example, prohibit the borrower from taking on additional debt, creating any charge on the assets of the entity or disposing of particular assets of the entity, thus giving some degree of certainty over the balance sheet of the borrower.

Chapter X paragraph 10.85

Maintenance covenants refer typically to financial indicators which have to be met at regular, predetermined intervals during the life of a covenanted loan. Maintenance covenants can act as an early warning system so that in the event of financial underperformance by the borrower, the borrower and/or lender can move to take remedial action at an early stage. This can help to protect unrelated lenders against information asymmetry.

Chapter X paragraph 10.86

There may be less information asymmetry between entities (that is, better visibility) in the intra- group context than in situations involving unrelated parties. Intra-group lenders may choose not to have covenants on loans to associated enterprises, partly because they are less likely to suffer information asymmetry and because it is less likely that one part of an MNE group would seek to take the same kind of action as an independent lender in the event of a covenant breach, nor would it usually seek to impose the same kind of restrictions. Where there is an absence of covenants in any written agreement between the parties, it will be appropriate to consider under Chapter I guidance whether there is, in practice, the equivalent of a maintenance covenant between the parties and the consequential impact upon the pricing of the loan.

Chapter X paragraph 10.87

A guarantee from another party may be used to support the borrower’s credit. A lender placing reliance on a guarantee or guarantees would need to evaluate the guarantor(s) in a similar way to that in which it evaluates the original borrower. For the lender to take a guarantee into account in setting or adjusting the terms and conditions of a loan, it would need to be reasonably satisfied that the guarantor(s) would be able to meet any shortfall resulting from the borrower being unable to meet its obligations in full in the event of a default. Guarantees are discussed in more detail in Section D.

Chapter X paragraph 10.88

The following paragraphs present different approaches to pricing intra-group loans. As in any other transfer pricing situation, the selection of the most appropriate method should be consistent with the actual transaction as accurately delineated, in particular, through a functional analysis (see Chapter II).

Chapter X paragraph 10.89

Once the actual transaction has been accurately delineated, arm’s length interest rates can be sought based on consideration of the credit rating of the borrower or the rating of the specific issuance taking into account all of the terms and conditions of the loan and comparability factors.

Chapter X paragraph 10.90

The widespread existence of markets for borrowing and lending money and the frequency of such transactions between independent borrowers and lenders, coupled with the widespread availability of information and analysis of loan markets may make it easier to apply the CUP method to financial transactions than may be the case for other types of transactions. Information available often includes details on the characteristics of the loan and the credit rating of the borrower or the rating of the specific issuance. Characteristics which will usually increase the risk for the lender, such as long maturity dates, absence of security, subordination, or application of the loan to a risky project, will tend to increase the interest rate. Characteristics which limit the lender’s risk, such as strong collateral, a high quality guarantee, or restrictions on future behaviour of the borrower, will tend to result in a lower interest rate.

Chapter X paragraph 10.91

The arm’s length interest rate for a tested loan can be benchmarked against publicly available data for other borrowers with the same credit rating for loans with sufficiently similar terms and conditions and other comparability factors. With the extent of competition often present within lending markets, it might be expected that, given the characteristics of the loan (amount, maturity, currency, etc.) and the credit rating of the borrower or the rating of the specific issuance (see Section C.1.1.2.), there would be a single rate at which the borrower could obtain funds and a single rate at which a lender could invest funds to obtain an appropriate reward. In practice, however, there is unlikely to be a single “market rate” but a range of rates although competition between lenders and the availability of pricing information will tend to narrow the range.

Chapter X paragraph 10.92

In the search for comparability data, a comparable is not necessarily restricted to a stand-alone entity. In examining commercial loans, where the potentially comparable borrower is a member of an MNE group and has borrowed from an independent lender, provided all other economically relevant conditions are sufficiently similar, a loan to a member of a different MNE group or between members of different MNE groups could be a valid comparable.

Chapter X paragraph 10.93

Arm’s length interest rates can also be based on the return of realistic alternative transactions with comparable economic characteristics. Depending on the facts and circumstances, realistic alternatives to intra-group loans could be, for instance, bond issuances, loans which are uncontrolled transactions, deposits, convertible debentures, commercial papers, etc. In the evaluation of those alternatives as potential comparables it is important to bear in mind that, based on facts and circumstances, comparability adjustments may be required to eliminate the material effects of differences between the controlled intra-group loan and the selected alternative in terms of, for instance, liquidity, maturity, existence of collateral or currency.

Chapter X paragraph 10.94

When considering issues of comparability, the possibility of internal CUPs should not be overlooked.

Chapter X paragraph 10.95

Whereas it is unlikely that an MNE group’s average interest rate paid on its external debt meets the comparability requirements to be considered as an internal CUP, it may be possible to identify potential comparable loans within the borrower’s or its MNE group’s financing with an independent lender as the counterparty. As with external CUPs, it may be necessary to make appropriate adjustments to improve comparability. See Example 1 at 1.164 – 1.166.

Chapter X paragraph 10.96

In considering arm’s length pricing of loans, the issue of fees and charges in relation to the loan may arise. Independent commercial lenders will sometimes charge fees as part of the terms and conditions of the loan, for example arrangement fees or commitment fees in relation to an undrawn facility. If such charges are seen in a loan between associated enterprises, they should be evaluated in the same way as any other intra-group transaction. In doing so, it must be borne in mind that independent lenders’ charges will in part reflect costs incurred in the process of raising capital and in satisfying regulatory requirements, which associated enterprises might not incur.

Chapter X paragraph 10.97

In the absence of comparable uncontrolled transactions, the cost of funds approach could be used as an alternative to price intra-group loans in some circumstances. The cost of funds will reflect the borrowing costs incurred by the lender in raising the funds to lend. To this would be added the expenses of arranging the loan and the relevant costs incurred in servicing the loan, a risk premium to reflect the various economic factors inherent in the proposed loan, plus a profit margin, which will generally include the lender’s incremental cost of the equity required to support the loan.

Chapter X paragraph 10.98

One consideration to be kept in mind with the cost of funds approach is that it should be applied by considering the lender’s cost of funds relative to other lenders operating in the market. The cost of funds can vary between different prospective lenders, so the lender cannot simply charge based on its cost of funds, particularly if there is a potential competitor who can obtain funds more cheaply. A lender in a competitive market may seek to price at the lowest possible rate in order to win business. In the commercial environment, this will mean that lenders drive operating costs as low as possible and seek to minimise the cost of obtaining funds to lend.

Chapter X paragraph 10.99

The application of the cost of funds approach requires consideration of the options realistically available to the borrower. On prevailing facts and circumstances, a borrowing MNE would not enter into a transaction priced under the cost of funds approach if it could obtain the funding under better conditions by entering into an alternative transaction.

Chapter X paragraph 10.100

In some intra-group transactions, the cost of funds approach may be used to price loans where capital is borrowed from an unrelated party which passes from the original borrower through one or more associated intermediary enterprises, as a series of loans, until it reaches the ultimate borrower. In such cases, where only agency or intermediary functions are being performed, as noted at paragraph 7.34, “it may not be appropriate to determine the arm’s length pricing as a mark-up on the costs of the services but rather on the costs of the agency function itself.”

Chapter X paragraph 10.101

Credit default swaps reflect the credit risk linked to an underlying financial asset. In the absence of information regarding the underlying asset that could be used as a comparable transaction, taxpayers and tax administrations may use the spreads of credit default swaps to calculate the risk premium associated to intra-group loans.

Chapter X paragraph 10.102

As financial instruments traded in the market, credit default swaps may be subject to a high degree of volatility. This volatility may affect the reliability of credit default swaps as proxies to measure the credit risk associated to a particular investment in isolation, since the credit default spreads may reflect not only the risk of default but also other non-related factors such as the liquidity of the credit default swaps contracts or the volume of contracts negotiated. Those circumstances could lead to situations where, for instance, the same instrument may have different credit default swaps spreads.

Chapter X paragraph 10.103

Accordingly, the use of credit default swaps to approximate the risk premium associated to intra- group loans will require careful consideration of the above-mentioned circumstances to arrive at an arm’s length interest rate.

Chapter X paragraph 10.104

Certain industries rely on economic models to price intra-group loans by constructing an interest rate as a proxy to an arm’s length interest rate.

Chapter X paragraph 10.105

In their most common variation, economic models calculate an interest rate through a combination of a risk-free interest rate and a number of premiums associated with different aspects of the loan – e.g. default risk, liquidity risk, expected inflation or maturity. In some instances, economic models would also include elements to compensate the lender’s operational expenses.

Chapter X paragraph 10.106

The reliability of economic models’ outcomes depends upon the parameters factored into the specific model and the underlying assumptions adopted. In evaluating the reliability of economic models as an approach to pricing intra-group loans it is important to note that economic models’ outcomes do not represent actual transactions between independent parties and that, therefore, comparability adjustments would be likely required. However, in situations where reliable comparable uncontrolled transactions cannot be identified, economic models may represent tools that can be usefully applied in identifying an arm’s length price for intra-group loans, subject to the same constraints regarding market conditions discussed in paragraph 10.98.

Chapter X paragraph 10.107

In some circumstances taxpayers may seek to evidence the arm’s length rate of interest on an intra-group loan by producing written opinions from independent banks, sometimes referred to as a “bankability” opinion, stating what interest rate the bank would apply were it to make a comparable loan to that particular enterprise.

Chapter X paragraph 10.108

Such an approach would represent a departure from an arm’s length approach based on comparability since it is not based on comparison of actual transactions. Furthermore, it is also important to bear in mind the fact that such letters do not constitute an actual offer to lend. Before proceeding to make a loan, a commercial lender will undertake the relevant due diligence and approval processes that would precede a formal loan offer. Such letters would not therefore generally be regarded as providing evidence of arm’s length terms and conditions.

Chapter X paragraph 10.109

The use of a cash pool is popular among multinational enterprises as a way of achieving more efficient cash management by bringing together, either physically or notionally, the balances on a number of separate bank accounts. Depending on the particular arrangements in place, a cash pool can help to achieve more effective liquidity management, whereby reliance on external borrowing can be reduced or, where there is a cash surplus, an enhanced return may be earned on any aggregated cash balance. Financing costs may also be reduced by eliminating the bank spread embedded in the interest which would be payable or receivable on a number of separate debit or credit account balances and by reducing banking transaction costs.

Chapter X paragraph 10.110

In the context of this section, cash pooling is the pooling of cash balances as part of a short- term liquidity management arrangement. Cash pool arrangements are complex contracts which may involve controlled and uncontrolled transactions. For instance, one common structure is that the participating members of the MNE group conclude a contract with an unrelated bank that renders cash pooling services, and each participating member opens a bank account with that bank.

Chapter X paragraph 10.111

Although there are two basic types of cash pooling arrangements – physical and notional – other variations and combinations may be arranged to meet specific business needs. For example, a number of physical pools might be held, one for each currency in which the business operates, along with a notional pool which then combines those individual currency pools.

Chapter X paragraph 10.112

In a typical physical pooling arrangement, the bank account balances of all the pool members are transferred daily to a single central bank account owned by the cash pool leader. Any account in deficit is brought to a target balance (usually zero) by a transfer from the master account to the relevant sub account. Depending on whether there is a surplus or a deficit after the members’ accounts have been adjusted to the target balance, the cash pool leader may borrow from the bank to meet the net funding requirement of the pool or deposit any surplus as appropriate.

Chapter X paragraph 10.113

In a notional cash pool, some of the benefits of combining credit and debit balances of several accounts are achieved without any physical transfer of balances between the participating members’ accounts although the bank will usually require cross-guarantees from pool participants to enable the right to set off between accounts if necessary. The bank notionally aggregates the various balances of the individual accounts of participating members and pays or charges interest according to the net balance, either to a designated master account or to all participating accounts under a formula determined in the cash pooling agreement.

Chapter X paragraph 10.114

With no physical transfers of funds, the transactional costs of operating a notional pool are likely to be less than transactional costs of operating a physical pool. Functions carried out by the bank would be accounted for in the charges or interest rate of the bank. With minimal functions carried out by the pool leader (because functions are primarily performed by the bank), there will be little, if any, value added by the pool leader to be reflected in the intra-group pricing. An appropriate allocation of the benefit created as a result of the elimination of the bank spread and/or the optimisation of a single debit or credit position would need to consider the contribution or burden of each pool participant.

Chapter X paragraph 10.115

The accurate delineation of the cash pooling transactions will depend on the particular facts and circumstances of each case. As cash pooling is not undertaken regularly, if at all, by independent enterprises, the application of transfer pricing principles requires careful consideration. As paragraph 1.11 notes “Where independent enterprises seldom undertake transactions of the type entered into by associated enterprises, the arm’s length principle can be difficult to apply because there is little or no direct evidence of what conditions would have been established by independent enterprises.”

Chapter X paragraph 10.116

The accurate delineation of cash pooling arrangements would need to take into account not only the facts and circumstances of the balances transferred but the wider context of the conditions of the pooling arrangement as a whole. For example, a cash pool is likely to differ from a straightforward overnight deposit with a bank or similar financial institution in that a cash pool member with a credit position is not depositing money as a transaction in isolation with a view to a simple depositor return.

Chapter X paragraph 10.117

The cash pool member is likely to be participating in providing liquidity as part of a broader group strategy, an arrangement in which the member can have a credit or debit position, which may include among its aims a range of benefits that can only be achieved as part of a collective strategy involving the pool members, done for the benefit of all of the pool participants, and the membership of which is limited to entities within the MNE group. Pool participants deposit cash to the pool (or withdraw cash from the pool), and not to (or from) a particular cash pool member.

Chapter X paragraph 10.118

No member of the pooling arrangement would expect to participate in the transaction if it made them any worse off than their next best option. The analysis of an MNE’s decision to participate in a cash pool arrangement should be done with reference to its options realistically available, taking into account that an MNE can obtain benefits as a member of the cash pool other than an improved interest rate (see paragraph 10.146).

Chapter X paragraph 10.119

In delineating the cash pool transactions, it may be that the savings and efficiencies achieved are determined to arise as a result of group synergies created through deliberate concerted action (as discussed in Section D.8 of Chapter I).

Chapter X paragraph 10.120

As indicated in paragraph 1.159, the determination of the results that arise from deliberate concerted group actions must be established through a thorough functional analysis. Accordingly, in the context of cash pooling arrangements, it is necessary to determine (i) the nature of the advantage or disadvantage, (ii) the amount of the benefit or detriment provided, and (iii) how that benefit or detriment should be divided among members of the MNE group.

Chapter X paragraph 10.121

An advantage of a cash pooling arrangement may be the reduction of interest paid or the increase of interest received, which results from netting credit and debit balances. The amount of that group synergy benefit, calculated by reference to the results that the cash pool members would have obtained had they dealt solely with independent enterprises, would generally be shared by the cash pool members, provided that an appropriate reward is allocated to the cash pool leader for the functions it provides in accordance with C.2.3.

Chapter X paragraph 10.122

Another key consideration in analysing intra-group funding arrangements which might be described as cash pooling are situations where members of an MNE group maintain debit and credit positions which, rather than functioning as part of a short-term liquidity arrangement, become more long term. It would usually be appropriate to consider whether, on accurate delineation, it would be correct to treat them as something other than a short-term cash pool balance, such as a longer term deposit or a term loan.

Chapter X paragraph 10.123

One of the practical difficulties in such situations will be deciding how long a balance should be treated as part of the cash pool before it could potentially be treated as something else, for example a term loan. As cash pooling is intended to be a short-term, liquidity-driven arrangement, it may be appropriate to consider whether the same pattern is present year after year and to examine what policies the MNE group’s financial management has in place, given that yield on cash balances is a key financial management issue.

Chapter X paragraph 10.124

A potential difficulty for tax administrations in analysing cash pooling arrangements is that the various entities in a cash pool may be resident across a number of jurisdictions, potentially making it difficult to access sufficient information to verify the position as set out by the taxpayer. It would be of assistance to tax authorities if MNE groups would provide information on the structuring of the pool and the returns to the cash pool leader and the members in the cash pool as part of their transfer pricing documentation. (See Annex I to Chapter V of these Guidelines about the information to be included in the master file).

Chapter X paragraph 10.125

Before any attempt is made to determine the remuneration of the cash pool leader and participants, it is central to the transfer pricing analysis to identify and examine under Chapter I guidance the economically significant risks associated to the cash pooling arrangement. These could include liquidity risk and credit risk. These risks should be analysed taking into account the short-term nature of the credit and debit positions within the cash pooling arrangement (see paragraph 10.123).

Chapter X paragraph 10.126

Liquidity risk in a cash pool arrangement arises from the mismatch between the maturity of the credit and debit balances of the cash pool members. Assuming the liquidity risk associated to a cash pool requires the exercise of control functions beyond the mere offsetting of the credit and debit positions of the cash pool members. Therefore, an analysis of the decision-making process related to the amounts of the debit and credit positions within the cash pool arrangement will be required to allocate the liquidity risk under Chapter I.

Chapter X paragraph 10.127

Credit risk refers to the risk of loss resulting from the inability of cash pool members with debit positions to repay their cash withdrawals. From the cash pool leader’s perspective, there needs to be a probability for it to incur losses derived from the default of cash pool members with debit positions to bear the credit risk. Therefore, an examination under Chapter I guidance will be required to determine, under the specific facts and circumstances, which entity within the MNE group is exercising control functions and has the financial capacity to assume the credit risk associated with the cash pool arrangement.

Chapter X paragraph 10.128

As with many types of financial transactions, different intent and understanding can be ascribed to the labels or descriptions attached to particular transactions. Each case must be considered on its own facts and circumstances and in each case accurate delineation of the actual transactions in accordance with the principles of Chapter I will be needed before any attempt to decide on an approach to pricing a transaction.

Chapter X paragraph 10.129

The appropriate reward of the cash pool leader will depend on the facts and circumstances, the functions performed, the assets used and the risks assumed in facilitating a cash pooling arrangement.

Chapter X paragraph 10.130

In general, a cash pool leader performs no more than a co-ordination or agency function with the master account being a centralised point for a series of book entries to meet the pre-determined target balances for the pool members. Given such a low level of functionality, the cash pool leader’s remuneration as a service provider will generally be similarly limited.

Chapter X paragraph 10.131

Where accurate delineation of the actual transactions determines that a cash pool leader is carrying on activities other than coordination or agency functions, the pricing of such transactions would follow the approaches included in other parts of this guidance, as appropriate.

Chapter X paragraph 10.132

The following examples illustrate the principles described above.

Chapter X paragraph 10.133

X is the parent entity of an MNE group which has subsidiaries H, J, K, and L which participate in a physical cash pooling arrangement with fellow subsidiary M acting as cash pool leader. All participants have the same functional currency and that is the only currency in the pool.