Multinational Ratings Agency to Launch as Alternative to Big Three

November 12, 2013

Credit ratings organizations from five countries are launching a new global agency, touting it as an alternative to the Big Three agencies, which they say no longer meet the needs of the new globalized world.

In a statement on Tuesday, ARC Ratings said it would officially launch on Nov. 20 in London as a joint venture between CPR of Portugal, CARE Rating of India, GCR of South Africa, MARC of Malaysia and Brazil’s SR Rating.

The credit ratings business is dominated by Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch, which together are estimated to control more than 90 percent of the market. The former two are based in the United States, while Fitch has dual headquarters in London and New York.

Ratings are a key part of the financial system as investors use them to judge how likely they are to get their money back, but the financial crisis has led to unease that the market is relying on them too much.

ARC said the dominance of the three amounted to an oligopoly of sorts—U.S. centric and prone to failures, as highlighted after the 2008 subprime crisis in the United States and the eurozone’s more recent problems.

“Working together, [the agencies] will provide ratings answers to the new multipolar world economy in direct competition with U.S.-centric agencies,” ARC said in the statement, adding that the new global agency’s ratings would be guided by a “multiperspective approach and local expertise.”

“An automatic center of gravity is replaced by a global cooperative approach to credit ratings,” ARC added in a paper posted on its website.

The chief ratings officer of ARC will be Uwe Bott, while Jose Pocas Esteves, currently at the Portuguese agency CPR, is to be CEO. The agency is registered with the European Securities and Markets Authority.