DBRS to add 19 countries in challenge to big three rating agencies

Wed Nov 18, 2015 8:54am EST
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By John Geddie

LONDON Nov 18 (Reuters) - Ratings firm DBRS plans to cover 19 more countries over the next two to three years, challenging the dominance of the big three agencies Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch.

The Canadian firm's head of sovereign ratings told Reuters on Wednesday that it would add the European Union and G20 countries it does not already cover, expanding its list of 37 sovereigns and supranational borrowers by more than 50 percent.

The countries to be added are Luxembourg, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia in the EU, plus Indonesia, South Korea, South Africa, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

DBRS will hire more staff in New York and London as part of the growth plan that is also aimed at allowing the firm to build up their core business in structured finance.

"It is a bit like putting together a jigsaw puzzle with only some of the pieces," said Fergus McCormick, head of sovereign ratings at DBRS.

"First of all we want to deepen our analysis and fill in the gaps, but we are also finding that investors increasingly differentiate between emerging markets."

As recently as 2006, DBRS only rated Canada. The big three agencies all rate more than 100 sovereigns. (Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)