Bilateral Netting – Definition

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Bilateral Netting

Bilateral netting is a legal process of merging or consolidating all swap agreements between two parties into a single agreement. Through this process, all the swaps are netted together to create a single legal obligation, hence, rather than each swap agreement having an individual payment stream, a single net payment stream is created.

A bilateral netting allows two parties with several legal contracts or swaps agreements to have a single agreement which is an aggregate of all other agreements. Aside that bilateral netting offers ease of contracts between counterparties, it also reduces the transaction or agreement volume between them.

A Little More on What is Bilateral Netting

Literally, bilateral is having two sides of a thing, while netting is an act of combining or merging different threads to form a single meet. Bilateral netting facilities the reduction of the overall transactions between two parties because all the transactions are netted into a single one. One major advantage of bilateral netting is that it gives room for two parties in a legal contract to offset claims against each other and also determine the net payment of obligation that a particular counterparty is entitled to or liable for.

A bilateral netting offers a reduction of the risk to the two counterparties involved in the agreement, these include liquidity risk, settlement risk, systemic risk, and credit risk. A bilateral netting also offers counterparties security in the event of bankruptcy. For instance, if a counterparty goes bankrupt, such party cannot collect in-the-money swap if out-of-the swaps are not paid in full. This means all out-of-the-money swaps must be paid in full before a party can collect on in-the-money swaps.

Types of Netting

  • Multilateral Netting: Multilateral netting occurs between more than two parties.
  • Novation Netting: This replaces all the swap agreements between the two counterparties with a new agreement called master agreement.
  • Close-out Netting: This allows counterparties to terminate transactions after a default.
  • Payment Netting: Also called settlement netting, is a netting where all original swaps are retained but each party adds up the amount owed the other party and only pays the difference in the amounts to the other party.

Reference for “Bilateral Netting”…/concept_UnderstandingtheBilateralNettingProcess-c9f93f.html › Trading › Trading Instruments

Academics research on “Bilateral Netting

Central clearing of OTC derivatives: bilateral vs multilateral netting, Cont, R., & Kokholm, T. (2014). Central clearing of OTC derivatives: bilateral vs multilateral netting. Statistics & Risk Modeling, 31(1), 3-22. We study the impact of central clearing of over-the-counter (OTC) transactions on counterparty exposures in a market with OTC transactions across several asset classes with heterogeneous characteristics. The impact of introducing a central counterparty (CCP) on expected interdealer exposure is determined by the tradeoff between multilateral netting across dealers on one hand and bilateral netting across asset classes on the other hand. We find this tradeoff to be sensitive to assumptions on heterogeneity of asset classes in terms of `riskyness’ of the asset class as well as correlation of exposures across asset classes. In particular, while an analysis assuming independent, homogeneous exposures suggests that central clearing is efficient only if one has an unrealistically high number of participants, the opposite conclusion is reached if differences in riskyness and correlation across asset classes are realistically taken into account. We argue that empirically plausible specifications of model parameters lead to the conclusion that central clearing does reduce interdealer exposures: the gain from multilateral netting in a CCP overweighs the loss of netting across asset classes in bilateral netting agreements. When a CCP exists for interest rate derivatives, adding a CCP for credit derivatives is shown to decrease overall exposures. These findings are shown to be robust to the statistical assumptions of the model as well as the choice of risk measure used to quantify exposures.


Estimating bilateral exposures in the German interbank market: Is there a danger of contagion?, Upper, C., & Worms, A. (2004). Estimating bilateral exposures in the German interbank market: Is there a danger of contagion?. European economic review, 48(4), 827-849. Credit risk associated with interbank lending may lead to domino effects, where the failure of one bank results in the failure of other banks not directly affected by the initial shock. Recent work in economic theory shows that this risk of contagion depends on the precise pattern of interbank linkages. We use balance sheet information to estimate a matrix of bilateral credit relationships for the German banking system and test whether the breakdown of a single bank can lead to contagion. We find that in the absence of a safety net, there is considerable scope for contagion that could affect a large proportion of the banking system. The financial safety net (in this case institutional guaranteesfor saving banks and cooperative banks) considerably reduces—but does not eliminate—the danger of contagion. Even so, the failure of a single bank could lead to the breakdown of up to 15% of the banking system in terms of assets.

Capital Adequacy, Netting and Derivatives, Matthews, B. C. (1995). Capital Adequacy, Netting and Derivatives. Stan. JL Bus. & Fin., 2, 167.


Payments netting in international cash management: a network optimization approach, Srinivasan, V., & Kim, Y. H. (1986). Payments netting in international cash management: a network optimization approach. Journal of International Business Studies, 17(2), 1-20. Rationalization of global production and operations by multinational corporations have created a large volume of inter-company funds flows. By a process of netting interaffiliate payments, significant savings in cost can be realized. Shapiro formulated the multinational payment netting problem using linear programming. This paper presents a network optimization approach that is both computationally efficient and intuitively appealing. Further, the proposed approach recognizes the need to integrate the netting system with the MNC’s overall cash management systems as well as by explicitly accounting for cash outflows on account of transfer costs. Additionally, the paper provides insight into actual corporate netting practices.


Foreign exchange netting and systemic risk, Yamazaki, A. (1996). Foreign exchange netting and systemic risk. As a natural consequence of a major development in financial ac-tivity since the introduction of flexible exchange rates in early 1970’s, it is felt that payment systems have become a potential source of seri-ous financial crises. Payment system is a set of arrangements made for the purpose of discharging obligations assumed by economic agents in their economic transactions. There are two basic ingredients of pay-ments systems: they are settlement arrangements, and netting arrange-ments. Netting is an offsetting of a similar type of financial obligations, and only the net difference is settled. Foreign exchange transactions account for a large share of all payment flows in major financial centers. The purpose of this paper is to introduce a formal model of foreign exchange contracts netting, and present an analysis of multilateral and bilateral netting from the view point of credit risk reduction. In par-ticular, we are interested in comparing these two different forms of netting arrangements with respect to inherent systemic risks involved. The point of our present paper is to show that when more than two banks defaults, indirect loss sharing of participants could harm the participants to multilateral netting beyond the potential risk level of bilateral netting arrangements. The concept of systemic credit expo-sure is used for this purpose.

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