Dominion Bond Ratings Service hopes to obtain this year the Nationally Recognized Statistical Ratings Organizations (NRSRO) status granted by the Securities Exchange Commission. Greg Root, executive v.p and head of the U.S office of the Ontario-based rating agency, says he is confident his petition with the SEC will receive a favorable response by year-end. Only three rating agencies, Moody's Investors Service, Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's, operate under NRSRO status. Root says that although Dominion is allowed to do ratings without the status, the SEC regulatory approval is a necessary step in the U.S. to build up credibility and a large client-base of bond issuers. Mark Attar, the SEC's general counsel in charge of the Dominion application, referred calls to the office of public affairs. John Heine, a spokesman with the SEC, was unavailable for comment. John Nester, another SEC spokesman, did not return calls.
Dominion rates more than 700 different international companies, 50 of which are in the U.S., including Procter & Gamble, Citicorp and General Motors. Ratings are delivered for both corporate and asset-backed finance debt, with an emphasis on Canadian corporate debt, he says. Root says he is a one-man operation in the New York office, but this will evidently change, as he plans to hire analysts as soon as the SEC grants the coveted status. He declined to specify any headcount.