Moody’s Investors Service, the New York-based credit ratings agency, is to open a regional office in Limassol, Cyprus on 20 March. The office will cover the Middle East, as well as East Europe, South Asia and Africa (MEED 20:1:95).

The new office, called Moody’s Interbank Credit Service, will be headed by Elisabeth Jackson-Moore, who will be vice-president and managing director. Jackson-Moore was general manager of the Cyprus-based ratings firm Capital Intelligence. John Cunliffe, formerly of Capital Intelligence, has also moved over to Moody’s.

The initial staff of eight will also include Andrew Cunningham, the finance specialist from the Cyprus-based Middle East Economic Survey and former finance writer for MEED.

Moody’s president, John Bohn, said the office was intended to provide the emerging markets in the region with a globally comparable bank rating coverage. ‘We want to raise our total bank coverage to at least 1,000, and we expect that most of the new ratings will be assigned to banks domiciled in non-OECD countries,’ he said.

Until recently, Capital Intelligence was the only firm offering a consistent bank rating service in the Middle East. In February, Moody’s announced its plans to set up an office, and a study is being carried out to set up a corporate ratings agency to cover Arab countries.

That study is being carried out by the Arab Monetary Fund, the International Finance Corporation and the London-based ratings agency IBCA (MEED 24:2:95).