CHICAGO -- Standard & Poor's Corp. is "seriously considering" opening a regional office in Chicago next year, a spokeswoman for the rating agency said yesterday.

"The Midwest is a vibrant region of the country in terms of bond issuance," said Kate Ennis, the spokeswoman. "And a number of tax-exempt funds are managed out of Chicago and the Midwest."

Ennis said that if Standard & Poor's decides to open the office, it would bring agency officials "closer to issuers and investors" in the region.

Ennis said the Chicago office would open sometime in the second quarter of next year, but that no details were available on who would staff the office.

Last month, Standard & Poor's said it would open an office in Boston for the New England region. The office, to be headed by Philip Shapiro, former chief financial officer and director of finance of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, is scheduled to open in January, Ennis said.

In addition to its New York headquarters, Standard & Poor's has a western regional office in San Francisco.

Chicago is already home to a Fitch Investors Service marketing office, which opened in July. Fitch also opened a Dallas office in September and is interviewing candidates for an office in California, according to Michael Belsky, a senior vice president and manager of Fitch's Midwest regional office.

Robert Tucker, vice president and assistant director of sales and marketing at Moody's Investors Service, said yesterday that the rating agency has no immediate plans for a Chicago office. Moody's, which has a regional office in San Francisco, opened a Dallas office in May.

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