Roland Berger, German businessman, said there are plans to launch a European ratings agency to compete with Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch.
According to Berger, plans are at an advanced stage and a new private institution could start the business as soon as this year.
The European ratings agency would be a new private, non-profit organization, in the form of a foundation, and could be ready in the first nine month of 2012.
Berger has been lobbying European governments and companies to gather support and financing for a new agency, and would be raised around 300 million euro needed to start the business.
He proposed a model where the ratings service is paid by the clients, who have an interest in having reliable and objective results.
Markus Krall, Berger’s partner, who is largely tasked with setting up the agency, said that the agency would differentiate itself from competitors by accepting liability for its analysis. This would mean customers could potentially claim damages from the agency.
Krall thinks it provides a strong incentive to provide an accurate analysis, while current ratings agencies are legally speaking purely opinion and are not subject to any product liability.
Berger’s plan for the new agency, which would be incorporated in the Netherlands, has received signals of support from the European Commission and governments in Europe but also from China and among some Arab countries.
European policymakers have criticized Standard & Poor’s during the euro zone debt crisis, saying they have been too quick to downgrade the credit ratings of indebted European Union member states despite bailouts and austerity measures.
Some days before, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the credit ratings of nine euro zone countries in one shoot, stripping France and Austria of their top triple-A status.