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A credit rating brings a number of significant benefits to most corporate borrowers: It increases the field of investors who are willing to buy a company’s debt, and by expanding the investor pool, it usually reduces the cost of borrowing. It also increases the level of confidence that the company’s other stakeholders—including derivative counterparties, customers, shareholders, and regulatory bodies—have in the company. However, from the moment a company embarks on the path toward obtaining a credit rating, whether it’s getting a rating for the first time or getting an additional rating, someone needs to carefully tend to the relationship with the rating agencies. That someone is usually the treasurer, and it’s not a job to take lightly.

A credit rating is a very public opinion on the creditworthiness of a company, so it’s vital for the organization to take a systematic and comprehensive approach to managing relationships with the agency or agencies developing those opinions. Even the decision of whether to pursue a rating in the first place is a significant responsibility. Most large companies—especially multinationals—tend to have one or more public ratings in order to access the debt and capital markets, but in some cases the costs of pursuing a credit rating may outweigh the benefits.

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