May 16, 2018 / 9:09 PM / 9 months ago

Russian ratings agency ACRA buys Slovakian peer

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s Analytical Credit Rating Agency (ACRA) said it has closed a deal to buy Slovak European Rating Agency (ERA), its first acquisition outside Russia as it aims to expand abroad.

ACRA was established in 2015 after the top three international ratings agencies downgraded Russia following the annexation of Crimea. It has been promoted by the Russian government and central bank and Russian firms need ACRA ratings to access most state funds.

ACRA’s Chief Executive Ekaterina Trofimova declined to disclose the value of the acquisition but said that ACRA plans to invest up to 150,000 euros ($177,000) in ERA over 18 months to two years.

ACRA, whose shareholders include Sberbank (SBER.MM), VTB (VTBR.MM) and Raiffeisenbank, plans to expand ERA’s rating activity in central and eastern Europe, Trofimova said.

“The initial idea of the purchase was our desire to develop outside Russia, it’s a new area of growth for us,” she said. “With our knowledge and resources ERA may take a noticeable place in the European (ratings) market.”

ERA planned to issue up to 20 to 30 ratings a year, focusing on sub-sovereign, sovereign ratings, as well as ratings for regional authorities, among other products, she said.

The deal would also allow ACRA to issue ratings for foreign companies wishing to raise funds in Russia, Trofimova said. ERA’s previous owner was its chairman Emil Hubinak.

Reporting by Katya Golubkova; Editing by Susan Fenton

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