Back-to-Back Loan – Definition

Cite this article as:"Back-to-Back Loan – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated July 30, 2019, last accessed October 28, 2020,


Back-to-Back Loan Definition

A back-to-back loan is a loan agreement between two companies domiciled in different countries in which a bank advances a loan based on the loan advanced by the other bank in another country. Each of these companies borrows from one another in their different currencies.  The currencies and interest rates of both companies in a back-to-back loan differ but both loans have the same maturity date.

The gross interest of this type of loan is determined by the commercial rates of each location (country) but the maturity date for the loans are the same. A back-to-back loan is otherwise called a parallel loan.

A Little More on What is a Back-to-Back Loan

When two companies in different countries need to access money in each other’s currency for the purpose of offsetting a bill or trading on the currency market, a back-to-back loan is used. Since the value of currencies differ, companies engage in this type of loan as a hedge against currency risk. Also, if a company takes a loan in another currency for the purpose of making a payment, it can minimise the expense the company would have accrued if it had paid in its own currency.

Only large companies that have sufficient liquidity in the cash markets or countries whose currencies trade in future markets can participate in a back-to-back loan.  Companies also reduce their currency risk using the back-to-back loan.

Back-to-Back Loan Example

An American company that desires to open an office in China and a Chinese company that wishes to open a American company can both engage in back-to-back loan. In the type of laon, the American company can lend the Chinese company $2 million to open an office in America while the Chinese company would also lend the American company an equivalent of $2 million also. Due to the fact that both loans are made in their distinguished currencies, both companies will be able to hedge currency risk. However, both loans will have the same maturity date, they will be paid back on the same day.

Back-to-Back Loan Risks

There are a number of risks that can be attributed to back-to-back loans. The major risk is that the two currencies in this type of loan have the tendency of being uneven in terms of loss attributable to them. This is called asymmetrical liability, except in cases where there is provision or coverage for asymmetrical liability is clearly stated in the back-to-back loan agreement.

Another risk of back-to-back loan is that if one of the companies or parties defaults on loan payments, the other party is not relieved of their responsibility for repayment. Due to the inherent risks of this type of loan, the maturity date for most back-to-back loans is 10 years.

Reference for “Back-to-Back Loan”

Academics research on “Back-to-Back Loan”

Federal Income Tax Consequences of Back-to-Back Loans and Currency Exchanges, Samuels, L. B. (1979). Federal Income Tax Consequences of Back-to-Back Loans and Currency Exchanges. Tax Law.33, 847.

Back‐to‐Back Loans: A Fraud in Transition, Johnson, R. (2000). BacktoBack Loans: A Fraud in Transition. Australian Accounting Review10(22), 62-72. Case law relating to an auditor’s detection of fraud has identified three fraud categories: “ingenious”, those that arouse or ought to arouse the auditor’s suspicions, and “well‐known frauds”. This paper argues that the extensive publicity given to Bond Corporation’s use of back‐to‐back loans in 1988‐89 to siphon $1.2 billion from Bell Resources resulted in this fraud being transfomed from ingenious to well‐known. Detection processes have been developed for well‐known frauds and this paper identifies certain “red flags’” associated with the back‐to‐back loan fraud that should facilitate its detection.

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