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The ratings ‘Big 3’ becomes 4? Morningstar approved to rate corporate bonds

After waiting for nearly two years, Morningstar Credit Ratings on Monday earned a regulatory nod that could push it beyond a niche presence in the ratings game and improve its chances of competing with heavyweights Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings.

Morningstar Credit Ratings, a subsidiary of investing research firm Morningstar, Inc. MORN, -0.05% said the Securities and Exchange Commission has now authorized Morningstar Credit Ratings to rate corporate debt issuers and financial institutions under its existing nationally recognized statistical rating organization registration.

Morningstar was already rating mortgage-backed securities. It pushed into the ratings industry from what had been a focus largely on mutual fund research and analysis with a 2010 purchase of collateralized mortgage-backed securities ratings firm, Realpoint.

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