A.M. Best, Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor's announced ratings updates. The following are some of the most recent:

 

AGCS Marine Insurance Co.

A.M. Best Co. upgraded the financial strength rating (FSR) to A+ (superior) from A (excellent) and issuer credit rating (ICR) to “aa” from “a” of AGCS Marine Insurance Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of Allianz Global Risks US Insurance Co. The outlook for both ratings is stable.

These rating actions reflect a change in the organizational structure of AGCS Marine, which on January 1, 2010, became a subsidiary of Allianz US through a stock dividend from Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co.

The ratings reflect A.M. Best’s view that AGCS Marine is an integral part of the strategy of its ultimate parent company, Allianz Societas Europaea (Allianz SE). Allianz SE provides explicit support to Allianz US and its group members. Other rating factors include the North American consolidated group’s strong risk-adjusted capitalization, solid business franchise, improved underwriting and operating performance in recent years and anticipated earnings diversification. Offsetting these positive rating factors are the historically poor underwriting performance and the inherent risks associated with the recent growth in premium production.

 

Allianz France

Moody's Investors Service placed the Baa1 rating of the Allianz France (formerly AGF) EUR400 million deeply subordinated note issued February 2005 on review for possible downgrade. This rating action follows the publication of Moody's revised rating methodology for insurance hybrids, issued on Jan. 12, 2010.

The instrument contains language typically known as a "Mandatory Deferral Trigger" that states that in the event of Allianz France recording a 12-month net loss that is greater than its retained earnings over the previous 24 months then Allianz France must cancel the coupon paid to investors. The cancelled coupons are not due and payable by Allianz France.

The operating companies of Allianz France SA, Allianz Vie and Allianz IARD are rated Aa3 with stable outlooks.

 

Broome Co-operative Insurance Co.

A.M. Best Co. assigned a FSR of B++ (good) and ICR of “bbb+” to Broome Co-operative Insurance Co. The outlook assigned to both ratings is stable.

The ratings reflect Broome Co-op’s favorable level of risk-adjusted capitalization, which is attributable to its low underwriting leverage position and conservative investment portfolio. The ratings also acknowledge Broome Co-op’s consistently strong operating income, favorable underwriting performance driven by lower than average losses from its seasoned book of business, and its long-standing local market presence as a property lines writer in New York.

 

Chartis International Insurance Co.

S&P withdrew its 'A+' FSR on Chartis International Insurance Co. of Puerto Rico (Chartis PR). National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh, which is an affiliate of Chartis PR, terminated its guarantee of Chartis PR's debt effective Dec. 31, 2009. Following this termination, Chartis PR requested that Standard & Poor's withdraw the rating.

 

CIGNA Corp. and Its Subsidiaries

A.M. Best Co. affirmed the FSR and ICR of the life/health subsidiaries of CIGNA Corp. Additionally, A.M. Best has affirmed the ICR and debt ratings of CIGNA. The outlook for all ratings is negative.

A.M. Best also withdrew the FSRs of A- (excellent) and ICRs of “a-” and assigned a category NR-3 (rating procedure inapplicable) to the FSRs and an “nr” to the ICRs of CIGNA Healthcare–Centennial State Inc. (f/k/a Great-West Healthcare of Colorado Inc.) and CIGNA HealthCare of Pennsylvania Inc., both of which are in run off.

The affirmations reflect CIGNA’s solid operating company results and improved capital position as well as CIGNA’s low risk operating strategy and earnings diversification. CIGNA achieves solid margins across its diversified portfolio of businesses, including healthcare, group, disability/life and international. Each of these segments has generated consistent near-term earnings given the difficult economic conditions and the stability of the financial markets over second half 2009.

 

Farm Bureau County Mutual Insurance Co. of Texas

A.M. Best Co. has upgraded the FSR to A (excellent) from A- (excellent) and ICR to “a” from “a-” for Farm Bureau County Mutual Insurance Company of Texas (County Mutual). These ratings have been removed from under review with positive implications and assigned a stable outlook.

These rating actions reflect a revised 100% quota share reinsurance agreement between County Mutual and Texas Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Co., as well as a capital contribution.

 

Fireman’s Fund Insurance Cos.

A.M. Best Co. affirmed the FSR of A (excellent) and ICR of “a” of Fireman’s Fund Insurance Cos. (Fireman’s Fund), which includes Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. and its intercompany pool participants and reinsured affiliates. Additionally, A.M. Best affirmed the ICR of “a” of Allianz of America Inc. The outlook for all ratings is stable.

The ratings reflect Fireman’s Fund’s solid stand-alone capitalization and favorable operating performance over the past five years. The ratings also consider the group’s strategic importance to the global insurance operations of its German-based ultimate parent, Allianz Societas Europaea, along with the explicit and implicit support Fireman’s Fund has received in prior years. This commitment remains vital to Fireman’s Fund’s current ratings.

 

The First American Corp.

Moody's Investors Service placed the Baa3 senior debt ratings of The First American Corp. on review for possible downgrade as a result of the company's expected profile following the intended spin off of its title insurance and specialty insurance segments into a separate financial services company. First American's existing debt is expected to remain at its current legal entity and will be supported by the company's information services businesses (Information Solutions) following the close of the transaction. In the same action, Moody's affirmed (with stable outlook) the A3 insurance financial strength (IFS) ratings on First American's title insurance subsidiaries, based on the expectation that the fundamental profile of the insurance subsidiaries will not change following the transaction.

According to Moody's, the review for possible downgrade of First American's debt ratings will focus on the capital structure and financial leverage of the Information Solutions company on a stand alone basis, including its prospective earnings and cash flow coverage metrics. Moody's will also consider the company's prospective strategy and financial policies following the completion of the proposed transaction (which is expected to close by April 1, 2010).

 

Jupiter Insurance Ltd.

A.M. Best Co. affirmed the FSR of A+ (superior) and ICR of “aa-” of Jupiter Insurance Ltd. The outlook for both ratings is stable. Jupiter is a captive of BP plc, an integrated oil and gas company.

The ratings reflect the company’s strong level of risk-adjusted capitalization and excellent financial performance, partially offset by potentially volatile underwriting results.

A.M. Best believes that prospectively, Jupiter is likely to maintain a strong level of risk-adjusted capitalization in 2010 and 2011. The captive does not purchase any outwards reinsurance protection; however, it limits its exposure to $700 million per event (approximately 13% of capital and surplus at December 2009). A.M. Best’s capital model also factors in funds loaned to an affiliated company in the form of a discount note, which, in December 2009, was valued at $6.5 billion.

 

Malayan Insurance Co. Inc.

A.M. Best Co. affirmed the FSR of B++ (good) and the ICR of “bbb” of Malayan Insurance Co. Inc. (MICO). The outlook for both ratings is stable.

The ratings reflect MICO’s supportive level of capitalization, consistent investment performance and strong business profile, according to A.M. Best, which also recognizes management’s implementation of a risk management framework during 2009, by which risks are monitored and controlled more effectively.

 

Merna Reinsurance Ltd.

Fitch Ratings affirmed the ratings of $1.2 billion of Merna Reinsurance Ltd.'s (Merna Re) outstanding notes and term loans as follows:

• $256,000,000 tranche A principal-at-risk variable rate notes due 2010 at 'AAA';

• $647,600,000 tranche B principal-at-risk variable rate notes due 2010 at 'AA+';

• $155,000,000 tranche C principal-at-risk variable rate notes due 2010 at 'A-';

• $94,000,000 tranche A term loan, senior secured credit facility at 'AAA';

• $19,000,000 tranche B term loan, senior secured credit facility at 'AA+';

• $9,000,000 tranche C term loan, senior secured credit facility at 'A-'.

The affirmations consider the transaction's stressed modeled loss statistics, the lack of catastrophe losses ceded into the structure to-date, the credit quality of the relevant counterparties, the credit quality of the invested assets held in the reinsurance trust and a credit support annex entered into by Merna Re and the total return swap counterparty, Fitch says.

 

 

 

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