Capital markets regulator Sebi on Monday came out with fresh guidelines in order to standardise the usage of rating scales used by Credit Rating Agencies (CRAs). Issuer rating or corporate credit rating indicates the degree of safety of the issuer or the rated entity with regard to the timely servicing of all its debt obligations.
Pursuant to the consultation with the CRAs, standardised symbols and their definitions have been devised for issuer rating or corporate credit rating, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) said in a circular, adding that the new guidelines will come into force from January 1, 2023.
According to Sebi, 'rating outlook' indicates CRA's view on the expected direction of the rating movement in the near to medium term, whereas a 'rating watch' indicates a CRA's view on the expected direction of the rating movement in the short term. CRA will have to assign a rating outlook and disclose the same in the press release. Also, the regulator has specified standard descriptors for rating watches and rating outlooks.
Rating watch with positive implications, rating watch with developing implications, and rating watch with negative implications are the three standard descriptors to be used for when issuer security is placed on a rating watch. Further, stable, positive and negative are the standard descriptors to be used when an issuer or security is placed on rating outlook. Also, Sebi said that rating symbols should have CRA's first name as prefix.
Under this, issuers with 'AAA' rating symbols are considered to have the highest degree of safety regarding the timely servicing of debt obligations. Debt exposures to such issuers carry the lowest credit risk. While issuers with 'AA' and 'A' rating symbols are understood to have a high and adequate degree of safety, respectively with regard to the timely servicing of debt obligations. Debt exposures to such issuers carry very low to low credit risk.
According to Sebi, issuers with BBB ratings are considered to have a moderate degree of safety regarding the timely servicing of debt obligations. Debt exposures to such issuers carry moderate credit risk. Those with BB, B and C ratings are considered to have 'moderate', 'high', 'very high' risk of default, respectively pertaining to timely servicing of debt obligations and issuers with a D rating are in default or are expected to be in default soon.