The Inter-Arab Ratings Company (IARC) has been granted a licence to set up an office in Tunisia which will cover Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. The office, which will be IARC’s first, is scheduled to be operational by October. IARC was set up by London-based IBCA, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Arab Monetary Fund. Its Bahrain holding company was registered earlier this year (MEED 29:3:96).

The company will focus on rating banks and private sector bond issues, the latter being a new product in the Maghreb. IFC officials say that bond ratings could eventually replace current requirements that issuers have bank guarantees.

Depending on the development of the bond market a separate Morocco office may eventually be established. The company also plans to set up offices in the Levant, the Gulf and Egypt.