Sebi tightens rating norms for ‘non-cooperative’ firms

Instruments could attract non-investment grade rating

MUMBAI: The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has mandated the credit rating agencies (CRAs) to tighten the rating norms for companies that do not cooperate with the rating agencies.

Sebi said on Friday that if companies are not cooperating with credit rating agencies (CRAs) on disclosure of loan defaults for more than six months then the CRA should downgrade the rating assigned to the instrument of such issuer to non-investment grade with Issuer not cooperating  (INC) status.

“If an issuer has all the outstanding ratings as non-cooperative for more than six months, then the CRA shall downgrade the rating assigned to the instrument of such issuer to non-investment grade with INC status. If non-cooperation by the issuer continues for further six months from the date of downgrade to non-investment grade, no CRA shall assign any new ratings to such issuer until the issuer resumes cooperation or the rating is withdraw,” Sebi said in a circular posted on its website.

In November last year, Sebi had required all listed companies to make public disclosure on stock exchanges about default in payment of interest obligations on loans, including revolving facilities like cash credit from banks or financial institutions beyond 30 days.

Companies are also required to disclose default in case of unlisted debt securities such as non- convertible debentures (NCDs) within 24 hours from the occurrence of default.

The regulator also said in case of multiple ratings on an instrument, where there is no regulatory mandate for multiple ratings, a CRA should withdraw a rating earlier than stipulated provided the CRA has rated the instrument continuously for three years or 50 per cent of the tenure of the instrument – whichever is higher, and received a no-objection certificate from 75 per cent of bondholders of the outstanding debt for withdrawal of rating.

“At the time of withdrawal, the CRA should assign a rating to such instrument and issue a press release mentioning the reason for withdrawal of rating,” Sebi added.

 

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