Canadian credit ratings agency DBRS Ltd. could soon change ownership for the first time.
The Toronto-based company’s 72-year-old founder Walter Schroeder is exploring a possible sale of the firm as part of a larger estate planning process, according to people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Schroeder, who currently serves as DBRS’s chairman, started the company 38 years ago. Today, it is the fourth-largest ratings company in the world. The independently operated firm expanded into the United States in 2003, and now has offices in both New York and Chicago.
DBRS gained global attention during the credit crisis in 2007 when the agency was the only one to place high ratings on $33-billion worth of third-party asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP). Other agencies didn’t rate the debt at all.
The financial crisis that followed in 2008 was hard on ratings agencies, and DBRS closed European offices and had to reduce staff during that time. It has since reopened its London office.
DBRS rates more than 1,000 companies and other groups that issue debt.
The company is exploring its options with the help of Perella Weinberg Partners LP, but the process is still in early stages and an auction isn’t imminent, sources say.