Duff & Phelps Credit Rating Co. upgraded $24 billion of Chase Manhattan Corp. and Citicorp debt, in another reflection of the money-centers' rebound from their lows of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The firm upgraded Chase's and Citicorp's long-term senior debt rating from A-minus to A, the subordinated debt rating to A-minus from BBB-plus, and the preferred-stock rating from BBB to BBB-plus.

The rating for commercial paper was improved from Duff 1-minus to Duff 1.

D&P also raised the long-term-obligation ratings for Chase Manhattan Bank, Chase Manhattan Bank USA, and Citibank from A to A-plus.

The changes affect roughly $5 billion of Chase securities, and $19 billion of Citicorp securities.

Thicker Capital Cushions

The ratings agency cited improving credit quality and greatly increased levels of capital.

In Citicorp's case, the agency pointed to management's decision to identify opportunities to improve operating efficiency and exit nonstrategic lines of business while continuing to invest in attractive, high-yielding assets.

The rating agency also praised Citicorp's worldwide presence, noting the bank derives 45% of earnings from developing economies.

For Chase Manhattan, D&P cited a similar story. An improved balance sheet and a focus on profitable business lines have lifted Chase from the dire straits of the early 1990s, D&P said.

Global Risk Management Increased

Increased fee revenues, good expense control, and lower credit charges aided the improvement, D&P said. This improvement has allowed Chase to increase its global risk management business and introduce new credit card programs to regain lost market share.

And Chase continues to improve its credit quality, having greatly reduced its portfolio of nonperforming assets, D&P said.

Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's Corp. both rate the outlook for the two companies as "stable." Their ratings are similar to the new ratings from Duff & Phelps.

Moody's upgraded the two in March for many of the same reasons Duff outlined this week.

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