S&P Said to Name Ratings Executives as Peterson Overhauls Firm

Standard & Poor’s appointed a series of new ratings executives as Douglas Peterson, who took over as president in September, overhauls the firm’s management structure, according to company documents.

Fabienne Michaux was named chief credit officer for Asia-Pacific, while Lapo Guadagnuolo will have that role in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to an internal memo, the contents of which were confirmed by Ed Sweeney, an S&P spokesman, who declined to comment further. The two report to Ian Thompson, who replaced Mark Adelson as the overall chief credit officer in December.

Peterson, a former Citigroup Inc. executive, has been reorganizing the firm’s management along regional lines since he replaced Deven Sharma at the New York-based unit of McGraw-Hill Cos. Thompson and the executives reporting to him are responsible for S&P’s criteria. The firm’s methods, along with those of competitors Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings, have been scrutinized by policy makers as sovereign-debt downgrades roil markets around the world.

Congressional investigators earlier blamed the rating companies for contributing to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression by inflating their grades for mortgage-tied securities.

S&P also appointed Gary Carrington as global criteria officer for securities backed by commercial mortgages. S&P has been shut out of that market since last July, when it derailed a $1.5 billion sale by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc. by withdrawing ratings on bonds bankers had already committed to sell.

Regional Management

At the time, S&P said it was planning to update its criteria for the securities. The firm hasn’t published a new methodology yet.

The credit officers responsible for S&P’s methodologies are different from the executives in charge of the firm’s ratings. Paul Coughlin, who had been responsible for corporate and government ratings, was given responsibility for the Americas in December, with Yu-Tsung Chang leading the Asia-Pacific region and Yann Le Pallec in charge of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. David Jacob, who was head of structured finance, left last year.

Last month, S&P moved Peter Eastham to New York from Melbourne, to be head of CMBS ratings, replacing Barbara Duka, who left the firm, according to another memo. Vandana Sharma, who was responsible for bank criteria, took over ratings of bonds backed by residential mortgages, S&P said in a third memo. Sweeney confirmed the details of these documents as well.

Frank Parisi, who was in charge of structured-finance criteria globally, is switching to a new role overseeing S&P’s statistical methods, Thompson said in the first memo. Majid Geramian, who was the criteria officer for CMBS, will work with Parisi.

S&P also appointed Felix Herrera senior criteria officer for structured finance with responsibility for ratings on bonds backed by mortgages and other assets such as credit-card loans.

Thompson also said that S&P plans to hire another chief credit officer for the Americas region.