By Rafael Nam and Abhirup Roy
MUMBAI (Reuters) – India’s market regulator on Friday set tougher rules for the country’s ratings agencies, including mandating them to more closely monitor whether issuers are meeting their debt obligations and increasing disclosure requirements.
Regulators and market participants argue the agencies were slow to adjust ratings of some companies that defaulted.
Each of the big three global agencies – Standard & Poor’s, Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service – are majority owners of firms in India which operate independently of their parent companies with different rating standards.
Under existing rules, ratings agencies operating in India are already required to “continuously monitor” the securities they rate and disseminate any changes “promptly.”
But the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) regulator said they would henceforth have to track whether debt issuers were meeting payments for each rated instrument and be alert for any deterioration of financial conditions.
Credit agencies would also need to review ratings after every “material event” and request monthly “no default statements” from issuers, SEBI added.
SEBI has threatened to impose tougher rules since the agencies were perceived to have responded slowly to changing conditions in several companies that defaulted, including Amtek Auto <AMTK.NS>.
Shriram Subramanian, founder of shareholder advisory firm InGovern, said the rules would put the onus on agencies to more closely supervise the ratings they assigned.
“These new guidelines makes it obligatory for rating agencies to provide closer monitoring,” he said, noting they would also encourage issuers to be “more transparent” with the agencies.
(Additional reporting by Suvashree Dey Choudhury; editing by John Stonestreet)