If it moves, rate it
Euromoney, is part of the Delinian Group, Delinian Limited, 4 Bouverie Street, London, EC4Y 8AX, Registered in England & Wales, Company number 00954730
Copyright © Delinian Limited and its affiliated companies 2024
Accessibility | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Modern Slavery Statement

If it moves, rate it

Suddenly, euroland, or rather Germany, is full of the urge to rate companies great and small. Partly, this is a swipe at giants Moody's and S&P, but it's also recognition that medium-size companies will pay more for capital if they aren't transparently rated. The regions back their own Mittelstand, while Frankfurt roots for the Finanzplatz. David Shirreff reports.

Rolf Breuer, speaker of Deutsche Bank, Werner Seifert, chairman of the Deutsche Börse (German stock exchange), and McKinsey partner Klaus Droste (shortly to join Deutsche Bank) are the chief protagonists in a drama to create a pan-European rating agency, with the help of German publisher Bertelsmann. The aim is to end the Anglo-Saxon duopoly of Moody's and Standard & Poor's in Europe.

Whether the result will be pan-European or just German is open to debate, since other European countries and shareholders aren't involved at this stage. Fitch IBCA is keen to point out that it is already pan-European, being French-owned and British-run, but perhaps it is too Anglo-Saxon for the German taste.

Breuer and Bertelsmann tried to launch a rating agency 10 years ago, including an attempt to buy IBCA, but the project lost momentum. Now the entry cost will be higher - one estimate is Dm400 million ($744 million) - but the climate is more favourable.

Belatedly, a ratings culture is spreading in continental Europe, for two reasons. First, credit has become the main investment criterion in euroland - investors need credit benchmarks. Second, a proposed new framework for banks' capital adequacy, from the Basel committee on banking supervision, intends to reward their portfolios on their aggregate credit rating - although they are still arguing about what rating method to use.

Gift this article