World Economy

We are not Putin’s rating agency, says ACRA CEO

Russia launches credit rating agency

The chief executive of Russia's only licensed credit rating entity, the Analytical Credit Rating Agency (ACRA), has rejected accusations that the organization lacks independence.

Ekaterina Trofimova also fought back against the critics who declare it was only set up by the Putin government to sidestep obligations required by the global big three agencies.

"This has nothing to do with the reality," the CEO asserted to CNBC on the sidelines of the Russia Calling conference in Moscow.

"This is the most diversified shareholding structure in the world among the rating agencies," she added, referring to the 27 companies and banks who created the body last year and who each hold a 3.7 percent stake.

Explaining the decision to launch the agency, Trofimova highlighted that the number of ratings assigned to Russian companies had sharply stagnated since 2004 / 2005 with "very, very limited" coverage of some niche domestic markets.

"This is just a matter of diversity and more coverage," she summarized, adding it was a move taken "very much not to substitute but to complement the work of the global players".

In further defense of ACRA, the CEO said the group's credit ratings process and law followed very much the systems seen in the U.S. and Europe. Both her and her team's prior employment had included significant experience working within the big three agencies, Trofimova added.

Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Although ACRA has yet to issue its first rating, the CEO was willing to be drawn on her view of Russian banks, sounding a sanguine note about industry's recent troubles.

"Financial institutions do fail from time to time, this is normal. The central bank has been pursuing the cleaning process quite persistently and ACRA thinks this is very much to the health of the banking system," she posited.

Furthermore, although banking licenses are being withdrawn, short-term liquidity is still good, according to Trofimova, leading to her conclusion that "the confidence is still there."

Turning more broadly to the Russian economy, she summarized it as "stagnating but in good shape and stable," while forecasting continued shrinkage in the year ahead.

"ACRA expects GDP contracting this year by around 1 and a half percent with a slight contraction next year but it very much depends on the global economic trend as well."

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