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Standards and Poors saddles up its ratings horse

One of the big international ratings agencies is looking to establish its fund rating service in New Zealand.

Sunday, May 24th 1998, 12:00AM

by Philip Macalister

International rating agency Standards and Poors is holding a meeting in New Zealand next month as a precursor to launching its fund rating service in this country.
While S&P is best known for its credit rating service it does also run a fund rating business which it is looking to grow.
S&P in Melbourne currently rate cash and bond funds in Australia as well as New Zealand.
To date the only New Zealand funds being rated by the company are the Macquarie Gilt Edge Access fund and SBC Warburg Dillion Read's cash management trust.

Head of funds management research Michelle Hannan says a meeting is being held with interested parties in June to try and expand the number of New Zealand funds being rated by S&P.
She says the company hopes to be rating balanced and equity funds by 1999.
S&P's parent company, McGraw Hill acquired United Kingdom-based firm Fund Research last year and it is now modifying its equity fund rating method, and plans to have that up and running by 1999.
The cash and bond ratings are essentially credit based, while the equity fund formula will be more "criteria-based," she says.
The cash funds are rated against their ability to repay principal, while bond fund rating criteria includes their ability to protect the fund in the case of a default.
Hannan says S&P "looks at things from the investors' point of view."
"We focus on the fund, not the fund manager," she says. However, managers do get evaluated on, amongst other things, their ability to do what they say they will do.
Hannan says the S&P rating process is "very analytical" and it's ratings "don't make predictions."
S&P uses an alphabetical nomenclature (e.g: AAA) for its ratings.
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