Russia to launch credit rating agency

MOSCOW, July 24

Russia’s central bank said on Friday it would launch a new credit rating agency by the end of the year in an apparent bid to rival US firms that recently downgraded the country’s sovereign debt.

Moscow slammed the decisions earlier this year by leading agencies Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s to cut Russia’s debt rating to ‘junk’ as politicised.

The moves came as Russia’s economy plunged into recession on the back of western sanctions over Ukraine and plunging oil prices, and prevented most large investors from holding the debt.

“The Russian market needs a strong credit rating agency with a high level of corporate governance and professionalism, the ability to meet the interests of the economy and be reputable among both Russian and foreign investors,” the central bank said in a statement on Friday. “To this end, the idea of creating a new credit rating agency has been supported.”

The central bank’s announcement comes a week after President Vladimir Putin approved legislation regulating the activities of international credit rating agencies in the country.

The new credit rating agency, which will have capital of three billion roubles ($51.3 million), will be headed by Yekaterina Trofimova, current vice president of Gazprombank.

The latest initiative represents one of many attempts by emerging economies to rein in the influence of credit rating agencies Standard & Poor’s, Fitch and Moody’s.