Corporate credit rating assessment consists of complicated processes in which various factors describing a company are taken into consideration. Such assessment is known to be very expensive since domain experts should be employed to assess the ratings. As a result, the data-driven corporate credit rating prediction using statistical and artificial intelligence (AI) techniques has received considerable attention from researchers and practitioners. In particular, statistical methods such as multiple discriminant analysis (MDA) and multinomial logistic regression analysis (MLOGIT), and AI methods including case-based reasoning (CBR), artificial neural network (ANN), and multiclass support vector machine (MSVM) have been applied to corporate credit rating.2) Among them, MSVM has recently become popular because of its robustness and high prediction accuracy. In this study, we propose a novel optimized MSVM model, and appy it to corporate credit rating prediction in order to enhance the accuracy. Our model, named 'GAMSVM (Genetic Algorithm-optimized Multiclass Support Vector Machine),' is designed to simultaneously optimize the kernel parameters and the feature subset selection. Prior studies like Lorena and de Carvalho (2008), and Chatterjee (2013) show that proper kernel parameters may improve the performance of MSVMs. Also, the results from the studies such as Shieh and Yang (2008) and Chatterjee (2013) imply that appropriate feature selection may lead to higher prediction accuracy. Based on these prior studies, we propose to apply GAMSVM to corporate credit rating prediction. As a tool for optimizing the kernel parameters and the feature subset selection, we suggest genetic algorithm (GA). GA is known as an efficient and effective search method that attempts to simulate the biological evolution phenomenon. By applying genetic operations such as selection, crossover, and mutation, it is designed to gradually improve the search results. Especially, mutation operator prevents GA from falling into the local optima, thus we can find the globally optimal or near-optimal solution using it. GA has popularly been applied to search optimal parameters or feature subset selections of AI techniques including MSVM. With these reasons, we also adopt GA as an optimization tool. To empirically validate the usefulness of GAMSVM, we applied it to a real-world case of credit rating in Korea. Our application is in bond rating, which is the most frequently studied area of credit rating for specific debt issues or other financial obligations. The experimental dataset was collected from a large credit rating company in South Korea. It contained 39 financial ratios of 1,295 companies in the manufacturing industry, and their credit ratings. Using various statistical methods including the one-way ANOVA and the stepwise MDA, we selected 14 financial ratios as the candidate independent variables. The dependent variable, i.e. credit rating, was labeled as four classes: 1(A1); 2(A2); 3(A3); 4(B and C). 80 percent of total data for each class was used for training, and remaining 20 percent was used for validation. And, to overcome small sample size, we applied five-fold cross validation to our dataset. In order to examine the competitiveness of the proposed model, we also experimented several comparative models including MDA, MLOGIT, CBR, ANN and MSVM. In case of MSVM, we adopted One-Against-One (OAO) and DAGSVM (Directed Acyclic Graph SVM) approaches because they are known to be the most accurate approaches among various MSVM approaches. GAMSVM was implemented using LIBSVM-an open-source software, and Evolver 5.5-a commercial software enables GA. Other comparative models were experimented using various statistical and AI packages such as SPSS for Windows, Neuroshell, and Microsoft Excel VBA (Visual Basic for Applications). Experimental results showed that the proposed model-GAMSVM-outperformed all the competitive models. In addition, the model was found to use less independent variables, but to show higher accuracy. In our experiments, five variables such as X7 (total debt), X9 (sales per employee), X13 (years after founded), X15 (accumulated earning to total asset), and X39 (the index related to the cash flows from operating activity) were found to be the most important factors in predicting the corporate credit ratings. However, the values of the finally selected kernel parameters were found to be almost same among the data subsets. To examine whether the predictive performance of GAMSVM was significantly greater than those of other models, we used the McNemar test. As a result, we found that GAMSVM was better than MDA, MLOGIT, CBR, and ANN at the 1% significance level, and better than OAO and DAGSVM at the 5% significance level.