Standard & Poor's Goes Way of AT&T in Renaming Ratings Unit

  • S&P Global Ratings rebrand drops historical combination
  • Follows rebrand of parent from McGraw Hill Financial Inc.

Standard & Poor’s is casting its name into the same corporate junkyard as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and American Telephone & Telegraph Co.

The credit rater is rebranding itself around its well-known initials as S&P Global Ratings, the company said Thursday. That’s in step with parent McGraw Hill Financial Inc.’s decision to rename itself to S&P Global Inc.

The New York-based firm owns financial data and information units, as well as the S&P Dow Jones stock indexes, after selling its education business to Apollo Global Management LLC in 2012 for $2.5 billion. The company generates nearly half of its revenue from evaluating the credit-worthiness of borrowers around the world.

The company carried the Standard & Poor’s name for 75 years following the merger of two financial data collectors. In 1860, Henry Varnum Poor published his guide to U.S. railroads titled “History of the Railroads and Canals of the United States.”

Standard Statistics Inc., which was founded in 1906 to provide non-railroad financial data, merged with Poor’s Publishing Co. to become Standard & Poor’s Corp. in 1941. Its eponymous S&P 500 Index of the largest corporations by stock market capitalization, known in the financial world as simply “the S&P,” was created in 1957. The McGraw-Hill Companies acquired the firm in 1966.

From a marketing perspective, the company isn’t taking a big risk by renaming itself, said Jeff Silber, an analyst at Bank of Montreal’s BMO Capital Markets, who follows the company.

“If they were changing it to something out of left field I’d be concerned,” he said. “But using the initials of a name where most people know what those initials stand for, I don’t think is a big deal.”

S&P Global shares were trading for $106.73 at 10:40 a.m. Friday in New York, down from 107.61 on Thursday. The stock hit a 12-month high of 107.92 on April 27.

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