Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's Ratings Group sometimes seem to operate with cookie-cutter similarity, but that hasn't been the case in the fledgling business of rating syndicated bank loans.

One difference stems from a divergence between the agencies in how they expect to be compensated for their service. S&P's approach is similar to the agencies' usual way of handling corporate debt, in that it rates loans only at the request of the borrower.

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