Fannie Mae aces governance test

January 30, 2003

S&P hands out first corporate judgment to a U.S. company

Inman News Features

Standard & Poor's today assigned its first corporate governance score to a U.S. company, giving a "9" to housing finance giant Fannie Mae.

The corporate governance scores reflect Standard & Poor's evaluation of a company's corporate governance practices and policies and the extent to which these serve the interests of the company's financial stakeholders, with an emphasis on shareholders' interests.

The scores range from 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest and 10 the highest. Fannie Mae's score of 9 means that its governance practices are at a strong level when compared globally, according to Standard & Poor's judgment standards.

"This score marks an important development in bringing greater transparency about corporate governance to U.S. investors," said Andrea Esposito, managing director for Governance Services at Standard & Poor's in New York.

Esposito said that in the wake of last year's governance breakdowns, investors now recognize governance as a risk factor and are demanding higher standards. Standard & Poor's introduced the scores in the U.S. market late last year, but has been conducting them globally since 2000.

Fannie Mae scored strongly or very-strongly in each of the four areas Standard & Poor's reviews as part of the corporate governance scoring process: ownership structure and influence; financial stakeholder rights and relations; financial transparency and information disclosure; and board structure and process.

The company scored highest for its board structure and processes because of its highly independent board, leadership among non-executives and strengths among its committees.

In the area of financial disclosure, despite the company's historical exemption from registering and filing disclosures with the SEC, Fannie Mae's voluntary disclosures generally meet and in some cases exceed those of its SEC-registered peers.

Standard & Poor's, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies, provides independent financial information, analytical services and credit ratings to the world's financial markets.

Copyright: Inman News Service

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