NEW YORK - Ratings agency Moody's is creating a unit to research and rate private credit, the firm said on Monday.

The unit will be headed by Ana Arsov, who will coordinate research and rating initiatives in the field, Moody's Investors Service said in a statement.

The global private credit market, with more than $1.3 trillion in assets under management, makes up about 12% of the alternatives market, investment firm BlackRock said in a recent report. Private credit is largely owned by buy-and-hold investors such as pension funds, endowments, foundations and insurance companies, the report said.

"The rapid growth of the private credit market in recent years has introduced new challenges and opportunities for investors, who are looking for fresh analysis from a trusted source," said Moody's president Michael West.

Moody's said Arsov will also be co-head of the global Financial Institutions Group along with Simon Harris.

The private credit group will have a team of more than 50 analysts in different geographies looking into private credit in institutions such as business development companies, collateralized loan obligations, insurance and asset management companies.

Moody's rates around $70 trillion of debt split between its four major rating groups: financial institutions, corporate finance, structured finance and global public, project and infrastructure finance.

(Reporting by Tatiana Bautzer; Editing by Rod Nickel)