The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the EU’s securities markets regulator, today publishes a letter to the European Commission (EC) providing its findings from the Call for Evidence to gather information on the market structure for ESG rating providers in the European Union (EU).
ESMA received a total of 154 responses and found 59 ESG rating providers currently active in the EU. The analysis of the responses further indicated several characteristics and trends as follows:
- ESG rating providers – the structure of the market shows that there is a small number of very large non-EU providers, and a large number of significantly smaller EU entities. While the legal entities of respondents are spread out across almost half of the EU Member States, a large number of these are clustered in a small number of Member States;
- Users of ESG ratings are typically contracting for these products on an investor-pays basis from several providers simultaneously. Their reasons for selecting several providers are to increase coverage, either by asset class or geographically, or in order to receive different nature of ESG assessments. The most common shortcomings identified by the users were a lack of coverage of a specific industry or a type of entity, insufficient granularity of data, and a lack of transparency around methodologies used by ESG rating providers. However, the provision of ESG ratings on an issuer-pays basis was also evidenced and more prevalent than anticipated; and
- Entities covered by ESG ratings dedicate at least some level of resourcing to their interactions with ESG rating providers, although the amount largely depends on the size of the rated entity itself. Most respondents highlighted some degree of shortcoming in their interactions with the rating providers, most notably on the level of transparency as to the basis for the rating, the timing of feedback or the correction of errors.
The feedback received is indicative of an immature but growing market which, following several years of consolidation, has seen the emergence of a small number of large non-EU headquartered providers.
ESMA will continue supporting the EC in their assessment of the need for introducing regulatory safeguards for ESG ratings.
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