LONDON, July 2 (Reuters) - The European markets watchdog is investigating whether the big three credit ratings agencies' methods of evaluating banks are rigorous and transparent enough, its chairman Steven Maijoor told the Financial Times on Monday.
The European Securities and Markets Authority (Esma) is inspecting Standard & Poor's (S&P), Fitch and Moody's Investors Service, and it expects to finish by the end of the year, the newspaper said.
Maijoor said mass downgrades, such as Moody's change of stance on 15 global banks last month, "raised concerns about whether there are sufficient analytical resources" at the ratings agencies.
He told the newspaper that Esma was not attempting to influence the ratings but was only asking that the agencies' choices made economic sense and were logical.
S&P told the FT that it was looking forward to explaining the steps it had taken to "maximise the transparency, quality and consistency" of its bank ratings. The other two agencies declined to comment to the newspaper.
The ratings firms must register and remain in good standing with the regulator to operate in Europe although the agency has never taken an enforcement action since its founding two years ago.