‘Big Three’ credit rating agencies maintain dominance in Europe

LONDON (Reuters) – S&P Global, Moody’s and Fitch, the so-called ‘Big Three’ credit ratings agencies, are maintaining their dominance of Europe’s credit score market despite the region’s efforts to loosen their grip, data shows.

Data published on Wednesday by EU watchdog, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), showed the trio accounted for more than 90% of all paid-for ‘solicited’ ratings, which range from government bonds to company debt and structured finance.

The breakdown showed that S&P and Moody’s had both seen fractional reductions in their shares to 48.6% and 31.5%, down from 50.1 and 32.8% respectively, while number three agency Fitch nudged up its share to 10.2% from 10%.

Despite efforts by Brussels to encourage greater competition following the global financial crash and euro zone debt crisis, the figures have barely budged over the the last decade.

The number of ratings firms registered in the 30-country European Economic Area (EEA30), which the ESMA data cover, has started to creep up again but at 21 the number is still lower than the 25 there were in 2020.

There has been other progress though. Last month the European Central Bank announced it will soon add Berlin-based Scope, which has a less than 2% share of the ratings market, to the handful of firms it uses to judge collateral values.

(Reporting by Marc Jones, Editing by Louise Heavens)