November 29, 2019 / 6:28 AM / 9 days ago

UPDATE 1-Turkish firms buy majority stake in ratings agency

(Adds source, ratings coverage, background of crisis)

ISTANBUL, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Turkey’s banks and financial institutions bought 85.05% of JCR Eurasia, the local unit of Japan Credit Rating Agency, Turkey’s banking association said on Friday, sealing Ankara’s longtime goal of relying less on the big three global agencies.

Borsa Istanbul will hold 18.5% of the company, while Japan Credit Rating Agency will keep 14.95%. Turkish private and state lenders, including Ziraat Bank, GarantiBBVA and Yapi Kredi will also hold stakes.

While Turkey’s government complained about downgrades from big agencies during last year’s currency crisis, JCR Eurasia will not rate banks or sovereign debt, a person familiar with the matter said. Rather it will focus on companies.

The banking association said the purchase is meant to make efficient use of resources through credit ratings and to support healthy economic growth.

The Financial Institutions Association, Turkey’s Capital Markets Association and the Insurance and Reinsurance Union will each hold 6% of the company.

Last year, as the lira fell sharply, Turkey accused Western credit rating agencies of deliberately attempting to undermine the banking sector when they expressed concern about the impact of the currency sell-off on Turkish banks.

All three major ratings agencies - Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch - have assigned “junk” ratings to Turkey’s sovereign credit. (Reporting by Behiye Selin Taner and Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Jonathan Spicer)

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