LONDON, June 5 Standard and Poor's will shift
its European sovereign rating announcements back to Friday
evenings from early in the day after watchdog ESMA laid out new
recommendations to unify how decisions are published.
The 'big three' rating firms - S&P, Moody's and Fitch - have
taken different approaches to rules brought in this year that
force them to publish rating decisions on pre-scheduled dates
and outside market trading hours.
S&P has generally announced its decisions before European
markets open on Friday mornings but a tweak to the rules by the
European Securities and Markets Authority means it will now
publish them in the evening.
"ESMA has taken the view in its Q&A that (rating
agencies)should only publish their sovereign ratings and related
rating outlooks on a Friday after the close of business (in
European markets)", S&P said on Thursday.
Over the next few weeks it will "modify its procedures and
systems to move from Friday morning to Friday evening
publishing", with all sovereign ratings to be published in the
evening from this week onwards.
ESMA's tighter rules are also likely to impact Fitch which
has been publishing most of its ratings on Friday mornings but
should have less impact on Moody's.
ESMA also ruled that Moody's could continue its practice of
not making rating announcements on some review dates, which has
caused markets confusion on a number of occasions this year.
Under ESMA rules, agencies must conduct reviews at least
twice a year but Moody's has put down three review dates in its
sovereign calendar, giving itself some room for manoeuvre.
"This non-publication does not constitute a deviation from
the sovereign ratings and outlooks calendar and credit rating
agencies do not need to publish an explanation of the reasons
for non-publication," ESMA said.
(for ESMA Q+A please click here)
(Reporting by Marc Jones; Editing by Catherine Evans)