McGraw-Hill Cos., the owner of the world's largest ratings company, was downgraded by its biggest rival after the U.S. government filed a lawsuit that seeks as much as $5 billion in damages.

Moody's Investors Service cut the debt rating on the New York-based parent of Standard & Poor's by two levels to Baa2 from A3, and said it may reduce the grade again. The new ranking, two steps above speculative grade, takes into account the sale of McGraw-Hill's education unit and the lawsuit filed Feb. 4 by the Justice Department, Moody's said yesterday in a statement after the close of trading in New York.

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