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SEBI tightens its norms for provisional rating by credit rating agencies

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has strengthened its regulations for provisional rating for debt instruments by credit rating agencies. As per the new norms, all provisional ratings for debt instruments shall be prefixed as 'Provisional' before the rating symbol in all communications including rating letter, press release or rating rationale among others.

A rating shall be considered as provisional, and not final, when it is contingent upon execution of letter of comfort, corporate guarantee, or other forms of explicit third-party support and execution of documents such as debenture trust deed/ debenture trustee agreement, legal agreements/opinions, representations and warranties, final term sheet, among others.

"In no case shall a rating, including provisional rating, be assigned by a credit rating agency for an issuer/client evaluating strategic decisions, such as funding mix for a project, acquisition, debt restructuring, scenario-analysis in loan refinancing, etc," SEBI said in a circular.

An extension of 90 days may be granted on a case-to-case basis by the CRA's rating committees, in accordance with the policy framed by the credit rating agency in this regard

The provisional rating shall be converted into a final rating within 90 days from the date of issuance of the debt instrument. The final rating assigned after end of 90 days shall be consistent with the available documents or completed steps, as applicable. An extension of 90 days may be granted on a case-to-case basis by the CRA's rating committees, in accordance with the policy framed by the credit rating agency in this regard.

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