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Practice Management > Building Your Business

Rating Agencies Cope With Aftermath

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NU Online News Service, Sept. 20, 12:55 p.m. — Since the Sept. 11 terror attacks shuttered or damaged their downtown New York headquarters, workers and managers at three major rating agencies, Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch IBCA, have come together and been working through the crisis.


With its headquarters on Church Street in New York, about three blocks from Ground Zero, Moody’s is among the hardest hit by the incident. “We are up and running, we are doing business and doing ratings,” Fran Laserson, senior vice president of communications at Moody’s, said.

Although Moody’s did not lose any employees in the incident, it is still feeling the effects of the aftershocks.

Because the electricity, telephone lines and e-mail system at the Moody’s headquarters building are still down, most Moody’s employees in New York, including Laserson, are operating out of temporary facilities in Manhattan and using their personal telephones and private e-mail accounts to stay in touch.

But the Moody’s “building is largely intact,” Laserson said. “City inspectors have already declared that the building is structurally sound.” Authorities let some employees enter the building Sept. 15.

As for company data, “we have removed our laptops and some of our servers [from the headquarters],” Laserson said.

In spite of the lingering effects of the attacks, “iIt’s been remarkable how much we have accomplished in a week in terms of conducting our business,” Laserson said. “Our rating teams are assigning and monitoring ratings. We are responding to investors’ calls.”

Laserson emphasized that Moody’s will be staying in lower Manhattan.

“We are moving as aggressively as possible to reopen our headquarters,” said Laserson. “We need to wait for power to be restored before we have our employees move back into our Church Street headquarters.”

Standard & Poor’s

S&P, based on Water Street, about six blocks east of the World Trade Center, says all of its data and employees are safe from the attacks. Employees at the Water Street location had to evacuate, and the headquarters has been shuttered. Most of the business usually handled at the headquarters is being handled by other offices in the United States and other countries.

S&P workers have been back at work since Sept. 17. The rating agency’s data and systems are all intact, according to Leo O’Neil, president of S&P.

Fitch IBCA

Fitch IBCA, located at 1 State Plaza, two blocks east of Ground Zero, evacuated its employees from its building following the Sept. 11 attacks but suffered no casualties. “After the evacuation, we contacted all New York staff to ensure they were safe,” says Jim Jockle, spokesperson for Fitch.

Most employees worked at home, using private e-mail and telephones, until the office reopened Sept. 17. “We were in touch regularly with regard to their respective groups and coordinated with all of our local offices,” Jockle says.


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