Debt securities by companies worth about Rs. 1.31 lakh crore were rated in February, the third-highest level in the first 11 months of the last financial year.

Credit rating agencies assessed 182 long-term corporate debt securities amounting to Rs. 1.31 lakh crore in February, latest data with market regulator SEBI showed.

This is the highest figure after Rs. 2.09 lakh crore of bonds rated in April 2013 and Rs. 1.47 lakh crore in May.

Of the issues rated in February, 106 debt securities (58.2 per cent) amounting to Rs. 3,696 crore were categorised as non-investment grade.

The remaining 76 were given investment-grade ratings with highest-to-moderate safety profiles. These cumulatively amounted to Rs. 1.27 lakh crore.

Non-investment grade is given to low-quality bonds that face the highest risk of default. Debt securities are issued by companies to raise funds for purposes such as expansion.

The top investment grade of highest safety (AAA) was assigned to 19 issues worth Rs. 1.17 lakh crore, while 17 securities valued at Rs. 4,003 crore got a high-safety (AA) rating.

Besides, the agencies gave 15 issues an adequate safety (A) grade and 25 were given moderate safety (BBB) ratings.

During the April-February period of the previous financial year, a total of 2,097 issues worth about Rs. 10.98 lakh crore were graded, of which 1,174 issues valued at Rs. 29,320 crore were categorised as non-investment grade.

SEBI data was only available till February 2014.

As per the process followed by credit rating agencies, the assigned rating is communicated to the issuer for acceptance. If the rating is not acceptable, a review appeal can be filed.

In February, 25 rating downgrades of corporate debt securities worth Rs. 8,742 crore were accepted by issuers, as against 23 upgrades amounting to Rs. 290 crore.

The rating agencies registered with SEBI are Crisil, India Ratings and Research (formerly Fitch Ratings India), ICRA, Credit Analysis & Research (CARE), Brickwork Ratings India and SME Rating Agency of India.

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