MSRB to Make Municipal Securities Credit Ratings from Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's Available on its EMMA Website

Date: November 14, 2011

Contact: Jennifer A. Galloway, Chief Communications Officer
             (703) 797-6600
             jgalloway@msrb.org

MSRB TO MAKE MUNICIPAL SECURITIES CREDIT RATINGS FROM
FITCH RATINGS AND STANDARD & POOR’S AVAILABLE ON ITS EMMA
WEBSITE

Alexandria, VA – The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) announced today that investors and others will have free access to current municipal credit ratings on its EMMA® website beginning on November 21, 2011. The ratings, provided by Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s, will be displayed on EMMA for all individual municipal securities that have ratings assigned by the two agencies.

“The MSRB appreciates the leadership of Fitch Ratings and S&P for their participation in this important project, which is consistent with the MSRB’s goal of supporting individual investors’ free access to information,” said MSRB Executive Director Lynnette Kelly Hotchkiss. “Displaying current ratings for municipal securities on EMMA will put additional information in the hands of investors to help them review the features and merits of individual bonds.”

The EMMA website is a centralized online database operated by the MSRB that provides free public access to official disclosure documents and trade data associated with municipal bonds issued in the United States.

“Fitch Ratings has long supported the MSRB's goal of making municipal bond ratings free and available to the public through EMMA,” said Dan Champeau, Group Head of U.S. Public Finance and Global Infrastructure & Project Finance, Fitch Ratings. “We are pleased Fitch’s municipal ratings will shortly be available via EMMA and we appreciate the constructive work the MSRB has undertaken to bring this important project to its completion.

"We understand the importance of providing transparency to the marketplace by making our rating opinions easily accessible to the public,” said Bill Montrone, Managing Director and Head of U.S. Public Finance Ratings, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services.  “We are particularly delighted to work with the MSRB in placing our U.S. municipal ratings on the EMMA website, a well-recognized and important resource for investors and other market participants."

A municipal security’s credit rating represents the rating agency’s opinion of the creditworthiness of an obligor. Fitch Ratings and S&P are among rating agencies registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organizations (NRSROs). In order to provide investors with additional information about municipal securities, the MSRB encourages other NRSROs to join the initiative’s next phase.  “Fitch and S&P are leaders in this project and we certainly hope that other rating agencies will follow suit,” Hotchkiss said.

In addition to credit rating information, the EMMA website also makes available real-time trade data and primary market and continuing disclosure documents for approximately 1.5 million outstanding municipal bonds, as well as current interest rate information and related documentation for most variable rate municipal securities.  The EMMA website provides transparency of information for investors in this important financial market and makes it easy — and free — for them to access bond disclosures and pricing data that can inform investment decisions. Information available on EMMA includes snapshots of daily trade data based on security size, sector, maturity and source of repayment, educational material about bonds and their associated documents, and a comprehensive glossary of municipal bond terms.

 


The MSRB protects investors, state and local governments and other municipal entities, and the public interest by promoting a fair and efficient municipal securities market. The MSRB fulfills this mission by regulating the municipal securities firms, banks and municipal advisors that engage in municipal securities and advisory activities. To further protect market participants, the MSRB provides market transparency through its Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA®) website, the official repository for information on all municipal bonds. The MSRB also serves as an objective resource on the municipal market, conducts extensive education and outreach to market stakeholders, and provides market leadership on key issues. The MSRB is a Congressionally-chartered, self-regulatory organization governed by a 21-member board of directors that has a majority of public members, in addition to representatives of regulated entities. The MSRB is subject to oversight by the Securities and Exchange Commission.