Bloomberg News

S&P’s Tillman Latest Job Switch at Ratings Companies (Update2)

July 01, 2009

Standard & Poor’s reassigned Vickie Tillman, an executive vice president who headed ratings services, to a new role at parent McGraw-Hill Cos., the latest personnel shuffle among credit-grading companies as they face lawmaker and investor scrutiny after the subprime-mortgage crisis.

Tillman, who joined S&P in 1977 as a municipal analyst and has been in her current role since 1999, will be responsible for developing a plan for uniting and promoting the company’s sustainability initiatives, including those on climate change, carbon trading and clean energy, among others, said Steve Weiss, a spokesman for New York-based McGraw-Hill.

“Vickie is an ideal leader to drive McGraw-Hill’s growth in this area, given her diverse analytical and global markets experience, deep knowledge of the company’s business and track record of creating new global revenue streams,” he said in an e-mailed statement. The move is effective Aug. 3, he said.

Tillman, who had the No. 2 position at S&P and reported to President Deven Sharma, wasn’t available for an interview today, Weiss said.

Tillman’s reassignment is the most recent personnel change at a ratings company, as S&P and Moody’s Investors Service reorganize employees with new positions and job cuts. McGraw-Hill eliminated 1,045 positions in 2008, a third of which were in the financial-services division, and hired Ray Groves as ombudsman for S&P’s credit-rating unit in January.

Criticizing Ratings Firms

S&P, Moody’s and Fitch Ratings have been criticized by lawmakers including Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd for giving AAA rankings to subprime-mortgage bonds after that market collapsed, leading to almost $1.5 trillion in credit-related writedowns and losses at banks and financial companies worldwide since the start of 2007.

Regulators and lawmakers have questioned the independence of the three companies, which are paid to grade securities by underwriters who want to sell them.

The position that Groves, former Ernst & Young chief executive officer until 1994, was hired for was created as part of a 2008 plan to revamp S&P’s practices and add oversight. His job is to address potential conflicts of interest and field complaints from S&P employees and people outside the company. Also that year, Kathleen Corbet and Brian Clarkson left their posts as presidents at S&P and Moody’s, respectively.

Ratings companies would have to do more to avoid and disclose conflicts of interest under an Obama administration plan released last month. The companies would also have to disclose more about their ratings methodology and performance.

Last July, Tillman signed S&P’s comments to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which said requiring the company to submit actions into a public database would “severely damage” its “ability to capitalize on and protect its intellectual property.”

S&P, the world’s largest credit-rating company, will meet with internal and external candidates to fill the role left vacant by Tillman, Weiss said in the e-mail.

To contact the reporter on this story: Whitney Kisling in New York at wkisling@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story; Alan Goldstein at agoldstein5@bloomberg.net


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