Alliance new weapon in disclosure battle

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 February, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 February, 2002, 12:00am

Xinhua Financial Network and mainland credit rating agency, Shanghai Far East Credit Rating, have formed an alliance to assign credit ratings to the mainland's publicly listed companies.

It is seen as an effort to bring more transparency to China's financial markets.

After the market closed yesterday, they announced their credit ratings on the first batch of Chinese companies. These were 35 B-share companies.

Credit ratings on a second batch of A-share companies will be announced after the Lunar New Year. Eventually, the pair hopes to become a full credit ratings agency, such as Standard & Poor's or Moody's Investors Service, and rate most of China's publicly listed firms.

These would not only be a useful tool for equities investors, but also for investment bankers specialising in mergers and acquisitions, and for commercial banks deciding whether to lend to these companies.

'Many investors are interested in China, but within China, they lack information disclosure to help them to assess the risk among all these corporations,' Xinhua Financial Network director of credit rating Ivan Chung said.

Shanghai Far East was the first professional credit-rating agency in China, set up in 1988 by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

Today, there are about 30 domestic mainland credit ratings agencies, rating commercial bonds or companies issuing debt instruments.

This is where the new affiliation differs - it will give unsolicited credit ratings.

Xinhua Financial Network chief executive Fredy Bush said: 'Right now, nobody is doing what we have done. Nobody is taking the public information and actually assigning a rating to public corporations.'

Mr Chung said: 'Actually, it is similar to credit-rating development history in other countries.

'It was started by unsolicited ratings. Because our ultimate goal is to provide information disclosure to the investor and so, before the market sets up a standard, we have to be a pioneer.'