21 March 2016 Current Affairs: Vladimir Putin’s homegrown credit-ratings firm is up and running and foreign competitors are already feeling the heat. Moody’s last week announced it would shutter its joint venture in Moscow of 12 years and Fitch said it will probably stop issuing local ratings on Russian companies, the same day ACRA, which stands for Analytical Credit Rating Agency, applied for a license to operate in Russia.In the past three weeks, Moody’s Investors Service Inc. and Fitch Ratings Ltd. have said they plan to stop issuing local ratings rather than agree to having their Moscow branches regulated by the Russian government at the cost of breaking international sanctions. Russia is squeezing the business of foreign-ratings assessors since downgrades it condemned as politically motivated last year pushed the sovereign below investment grade for the first time in more than a decade.The Bank of Russia announced plans to start a company immune to “geopolitical risks” in July after S&P and Moody’s cut Russia’s rating to junk amid a slump in oil prices and sanctions imposed over Ukraine.ACRA’s board is headed by an American, Karl Johansson, who advised the Russian government while at Ernst & Young LLP in Moscow. Ekaterina Trofimova, a former banking analyst for Russia and former Soviet states at S&P, will run the new venture.Twenty-seven shareholders, including Sberbank, Raiffeisenbank and Severstal PAO among others, will each have 3.7 percent of 3 billion rubles ($44 million) of the authorized capital.
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