S&P met with bond investors before U.S. debt downgrade: report

Wed Sep 7, 2011 12:22am EDT

The Standard and Poor's building is seen in New York, August 8, 2011. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The Standard and Poor's building is seen in New York, August 8, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

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(Reuters) - Ratings agency Standard & Poor's officials privately met with large bond investors weeks before the firm's U.S. debt downgrade, leaving some believing the chance of a rating downgrade was higher than they had previously thought, the Wall Street Journal said.

In the run-up to the debt downgrade, S&P officials had visited large bond firms including Allianz SE's Pacific Investment Management Co (Pimco), TCW Group Inc, Legg Mason Inc's Western Asset Management and BlackRock Inc, the Journal said, citing people who either attended the meetings or were briefed on them afterwards.

Some of the investors say they came away with a stronger sense the nation's debt rating would be cut, according to the Journal.

An S&P spokesman told the Journal that its analysts "are in contact regularly with market participants including investors, policy makers, and the press regarding our published ratings and analyses," and the firm "maintains policies that govern our interaction with such third parties, which include a requirement that analysts limit their comments on rating-related matters to previously published material."

None of the parties could be immediately reached for comment by Reuters outside regular U.S. business hours.

(Reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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