Regulating Credit Rating Agencies

The RBI recently put out two documents, (i) the Report of the Committee on Comprehensive Regulation of Credit Rating Agencies prepared “in response to the direction given by the High Level Coordination Committee on Financial Markets to reflect on the inter regulatory issues emanating from the activities of Credit Rating Agencies”, and (ii) the Assessment of Long Term Performance of Credit Rating prepared by the National Institute of Securities Market. The NISM study complements the committee report.

The committee report reviews the role of credit rating agencies (CRAs) in India, the regulations governing the industry and makes certain recommendations. Its key findings are summarized as follows:

The committee feels that prima facie there is no immediate concern about the operations and activities of CRAs in India even in the context of the recent financial crisis. However there is a need to strengthen the existing regulations by learning the appropriate lessons from the current crisis. The committee has taken note of international action in this regard and inter alia recommend that there may be greater disclosures regarding materially significant revenues received from a particular issuer/ non rating business like advisory services. A lead regulator model for CRAs may also be explored. The committee has also strongly recommended voluntary compliance with existing and emerging regulations like IOSCO Code.

Both the committee report as well as the NISM study are quite extensive. In his blog, Professor J.R. Varma notes, however, that the terms of reference of the committee could have include at least two more important questions that currently continue to be unanswered. These are the reduction in the use of CRAs by regulatory authorities and the introduction of competition in the CRA sector in India.

About the author

Umakanth Varottil

Umakanth Varottil is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore. He specializes in corporate law and governance, mergers and acquisitions and cross-border investments. Prior to his foray into academia, Umakanth was a partner at a pre-eminent law firm in India.

1 comment

  • If the SEBI Board meeting agenda and decisions are anything to go by, SEBI has already initiated the process of implementing the recommendations ‘Report of the Committee on Comprehensive Regulation of Credit Rating Agencies'. SEBI Board has already approved the proposal to amend the SEBI (Credit Rating Agencies) Regulations, 1999 to the effect that any change in status or constitution in credit rating agencies resulting in change of control, change in managing director / whole-time director, etc., would require prior approval of SEBI.

    SEBI Board meeting agenda on February 2, 2010 –

    SEBI Board meeting decision on February 2, 2010 –

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