Asset Ratings Giant Morningstar Takes First Plunge Into Blockchain Securities

As part of a $39.7 million investment in FAT Brands, DBRS Morningstar has for the first time rated securities issued on a blockchain.

Mar 9, 2020 at 10:52 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 8:17 a.m. UTC

Another day, another blockchain first.

As part of a $39.7 million investment in FAT Brands, the owner of "fast casual" eatery chain Fatburger, DBRS Morningstar has for the first time rated securities issued on a blockchain. Ethereum, to be precise.

As reported by Forbes on Sunday, the Toronto-headquartered ratings firm – which says it rates investment assets from over 2,600 issuers worldwide – actually rated a traditional debt security backed by franchise royalties and upfront fees coming in via Fat Brands companies, which also include Buffalo’s and Ponderosa Steakhouse.

However, the security was structured to include several Ethereum tokens in the investment process. With help from New York-based structuring consultant Cadence, ERC-20 tokens digitally representing the debt security were issued Friday to all investors' wallets, with transactions logged on the Ethereum blockchain. Quarterly payments will follow in the same way, according to Forbes.

Morningstar reportedly said in its rating that using Ethereum would speed up access to data on the securities, as well as boost transparency.

For the blockchain side of the investment process, $40 million in $CDG, a stablecoin linked to the U.S. dollar, was held by the trustee, UMB Bank, while FAT Brands held other tokens representing two tranches of the debt security.

A smart contract completed the settlement of the trade, passing security tokens to the investors and $CDGs to FAT in transactions visible on blockchain explorers.

“It's definitely the first rated securitization with a digital asset element, and we're using it the way it was intended: to provide that level of transparency," Nelson Chu, founder and CEO of Cadence, told Forbes.

Cadence has previously issued over 60 blockchain securities on Ethereum, though none were rated.

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