I am fascinated by the meaning of money. Not just on a workady, "I don't got no money" level (though I am extremely familiar with that), but on the level where economics & finance meet chaos theory & psychic hotlines. Credit ratings sit at the center of this stuff. If you're a big business, Standard & Poor's is always watching, judging, dealing. Talking about you. It's village gossip for the imperialist set.
April 24, 2004
Leo C. O'Neill, 64, Executive Who Led S.& P. Expansion, Dies
By FLOYD NORRIS
Leo C. O'Neill, who guided Standard & Poor's as it expanded from an American bond rating firm into an international concern whose opinion could be critical to the terms on which companies and governments could borrow money, died on Tuesday at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan. He was 64 and lived in New York.
The cause was complications of cancer, according to a spokesman for Standard & Poor's.
The death came less than a month after his illness forced him to step down as chief executive of S.& P., which is a division of the McGraw-Hill Companies.
Mr. O'Neill joined S.& P. in 1968 as an equity analyst but soon switched to bond analysis and by 1984 had become the top bond rating official in the company, with the title of executive managing director. He was put in charge of the rating business in 1989.
It was in 1984 that S.& P., historically an American bond rating service, opened its first foreign office, a two-person office in London. It now has offices in more than 20 countries. Over the last several decades, international capital markets gradually replaced banks as the most important providers of capital for major businesses, and credit ratings became critical to the ability to raise money.
In 1999, Mr. O'Neill became president of S.& P., giving him authority over the equity side of the business, including its stock indexes, as well as the credit ratings business.
In 2002, in the wake of corporate accounting scandals, he announced new procedures to calculate what S.& P. called core earnings, including as expenses things like the value of stock options granted to executives. He said that would make earnings figures "easier to understand, more comparable across companies and more useful to investors and analysts."
Mr. O'Neill was born in Geneva, N.Y., and graduated from Hobart College in 1962.
His first marriage, to Mary Jo O'Neill of Edgewater, N.J., ended in divorce.
He is survived by his wife, Kip Bleakley O'Neill; his mother, Eleanor O'Neill of Geneva, N.Y.; a brother, James of Geneva; three sisters, JoAnne Swenson of Fabius, N.Y., Theresa Felice of San Diego and Mary Cluff of Phoenix; three children from his first marriage, Brynn Van Schaick, of Clayton, N.C., Brendan of Jackson, Wyo., and Matthew of New York; a stepson, David Bleakley of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; a stepdaughter, Andrea Moriarty of Poughkeepsie; two grandchildren; and three stepgrandchildren.