A.M. Best http://www.ambest.com, Fitch Ratings http://reports.fitchratings.com, Moody’s Investors Service http://v3.moodys.com/Pages/default.aspx and Standard & Poor’s (S&P) http://www.standardandpoors.com/home/en/us released ratings updates. The following are some of the most recent:
AEGON N.V. and AEGON Americas
Fitch Ratings downgraded AEGON N.V.'s (AEGON) long-term issuer default rating (IDR) to 'A' from 'A+', and senior unsecured debt to 'A-' from 'A'. Fitch also downgraded the insurer financial strength (IFS) ratings of AEGON's primary North American life insurance subsidiaries (AEGON Americas) to 'AA-' from 'AA'. The outlooks for AEGON's Long-term IDR and the IFS ratings of its primary North American life insurance subsidiaries are stable.
The downgrades reflect Fitch's concerns regarding the cumulative impact of adverse financial markets on AEGON's capital position and earnings profile. AEGON has experienced higher-than-expected capital and earnings volatility over the economic cycle and relative to major peers in the 'AA' IFS rating category. This volatility has been largely due to credit-related investment losses and exposure linked to guaranteed benefits on AEGON's U.S. variable annuity business.
S&P revised its outlook on American Equity Investment Life Holding Co. (AEIL) and its operating company, American Equity Investment Life Insurance Co. (AEL), to stable from negative. S&P also affirmed its 'BB+' counterparty credit rating on AEIL and its 'BBB+' counterparty credit and financial strength ratings (FSR) on AEL.
The stable outlook reflects the minimization of regulatory pressure from the SEC in its bid to regulate indexed annuities, the principal product sold by AEL, following the U.S. Court of Appeals vacating the SEC's rule 151(A) that was due to take effect in 2011, the rating agency says. The ratings reflect AEL's strong growth and good operating performance supported by AEIL's access to the capital markets, S&P says.
S&P’s ratings on American International Group Inc. (AIG; A-/Negative/A-1) and AIG's insurance subsidiaries (most of which are rated A+/Negative/--) are not affected by the company's announcement that Robert S. (Steve) Miller has succeeded Harvey Golub as chairman of AIG's board of directors.
Given Steve Miller's new position, S&P recently discussed with him the current challenges and operational risks associated with AIG's restructuring plan and exit plan from government control. It is the rating agency’s understanding that he and the other board members will collaborate with the company's CEO to lead AIG through its restructuring plans. Although S&P continues to believe that the current plans' execution risks remain relatively high, primarily because of external market conditions, it does not see this chairmanship change adding to the existing challenges, and it expects a relatively smooth transition.
S&P raised its counterparty credit rating on Bravo Health Inc. (Bravo) to 'B+' from 'B'. The outlook on Bravo is stable.
The rating bump reflects Bravo's improved financial profile, strong membership growth, and continued emphasis on and proficiency with managing medical costs. However, Bravo's business profile, which has a product concentration in the government-sponsored market segment and a geographic concentration in Pennsylvania, continues to constrain the rating, the rating agency says.
Moody's withdrew the Aa3 IFS rating (stable outlook) of Canada Life Insurance Company of America (Canada Life of America). The company, which was a wholly owned subsidiary of Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Co. (GWLA - insurance financial strength at Aa3, stable outlook) and a member of the Great-West Lifeco insurance group of Canada, was merged into GWLA in 2009.
The last rating action on Canada Life Insurance Company of America took place on February 12, 2009, when Moody's affirmed the credit ratings of Great-West Life Assurance Co. (GWL, Aa3 for insurance financial strength), Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Co. (GWLA, Aa3 for insurance financial strength), and their respective subsidiaries, including Canada Life of America, with a stable outlook.
China Reinsurance (Group) Corp. and its subsidiaries
A.M. Best assigned an FSR of A (excellent) and ICR of “a” to China Reinsurance (Group) Corp. (China Re or the Group) and its subsidiaries, China Property & Casualty Reinsurance Co. Ltd. (CPCR) and China Life Reinsurance Co. Ltd (CLRC). The outlook for these ratings is stable.
The ratings reflect the Group’s strong risk-adjusted capitalization, prudent reserving practice and leading business profile in China’s reinsurance market, the rating agency says. In addition, the ratings recognize continued support from the government of the People’s Republic of China through the Ministry of Finance, China Investment Corp. (CIC) and Central Huijin Investment Ltd (CHIL).
Magna Carta Cos. and its members
A.M. Best revised the outlook for the ICR to negative from stable and affirmed the FSR of B++ (good) and ICRs of “bbb+” of Magna Carta Cos. (Magna Carta) and its operating members, Public Service Mutual Insurance Co. (PSM), Paramount Insurance Company (PIC) and Western Select Insurance Co. (WSI) (Los Angeles, CA). The outlook for the FSR is stable.
Concurrently, A.M. Best affirmed the FSR of B++ (good) and ICR of “bbb” of Business Alliance Insurance Company (BAIC). The outlook for these ratings is stable.
The ratings for Magna Carta reflect the group’s strong capitalization, generally profitable operating performance and comprehensive risk management practices that emphasize the writing of low hazard business, A.M. Best says.
Moody's upgraded to B3 from Caa1 the senior unsecured debt ratings of MGIC Investment Corp., the holding company for Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corp. and MGIC Indemnity Corp. (jointly "MGIC", Ba3 insurance financial strength rating). This concludes the rating review on the debt of MGIC Investment Corp, which was initiated on April 21, 2010. The ratings outlook is positive.
The upgrade of the senior debt ratings to B3 reflects MGIC Investment Corp.'s substantially enhanced liquidity position following its $1.1 billion recent capital raise and capital contribution to MGIC, Moody’s says.
Fitch Ratings affirmed Pacific Life Insurance Co.'s commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) servicer ratings as follows:
• Primary servicer rating at 'CPS1'
• Master servicer rating at 'CMS2+'
• Special servicer rating at 'CSS2'
The primary servicer rating is based on Pacific Life's demonstrated ability to effectively service mortgage loans in CMBS transactions, with a particular strength in servicing large loans, including A/B note structures, Fitch says. The master servicer rating reflects Pacific Life's continued ability to report and remit to CMBS trustees, and to oversee third party servicers. The special servicer rating is based on Pacific Life's experienced commercial real estate loan workout and asset management staff. Each of the ratings also reflects the company's highly experienced and tenured management and staff, the financial strength of Pacific Life and its commitment to commercial mortgage servicing.
Sagicor Financial Corp. and its Caribbean life insurance subsidiaries
A.M. Best downgraded the FSR to A- (excellent) from A (excellent) and ICR to “a-” from “a” of Sagicor Life Inc. and its operating life insurance subsidiary, Sagicor Capital Life Insurance Co. Ltd. A.M. Best also affirmed the FSRs of A- (excellent) and ICRs of “a-” of Sagicor General Insurance Inc. and Sagicor Life Insurance Co. (Sagicor Life USA). The outlook for these ratings is negative.
A.M. Best also downgraded the FSR to B++ (good) from A (excellent) and ICR to “bbb” from “a” of Sagicor Life Jamaica Ltd. The outlook for these ratings has been revised to stable from negative.
Concurrently, A.M. Best downgraded the ICR to “bbb-” from “bbb” of the ultimate parent, Sagicor Financial Corp. (SFC) and its debt rating to “bbb” from “bbb+” on USD 150 million, 7.5% senior unsecured notes, due 2016. SFC is publicly traded on Barbados, Trinidad and London Stock Exchanges. The outlook for these ratings is negative.
The ratings reflect SFC’s continued significant revenue, asset and earnings exposure to the Jamaican economy, which continues to pose ongoing uncertainty for SFC and its lead operating life insurance subsidiaries.
Sumitomo Life Insurance Co.
Fitch Ratings upgraded Sumitomo Life Insurance Co.'s (Sumitomo Life) IFS to 'A-' from 'BBB+', and its long-term IDR to 'BBB+' from 'BBB'. The outlook has been revised to stable from negative.
The upgrade reflects Sumitomo Life's improved business performance as supported by its recovered capitalization position following the financial crisis. Also, Fitch says, the company took steps to improve its core operating profitability by suspending the sales of unprofitable variable annuities business in Japan, by enhancing its risk control system through establishing a set of more comprehensive risk tolerance benchmarks, and by actively de-risking its asset portfolio.
Ulico Standard of America Casualty Co.
A.M. Best withdrew the FSR of B- (fair) and ICR of “bb-” and assigned an NR-3 (Rating Procedure Inapplicable) to the FSR and an “nr” to the ICR of Ulico Standard of America Casualty Co, (USA Casualty).
These rating actions stem from the commutation of the last remaining assumption reinsurance treaties with affiliate, ULLICO Casualty Co. (ULLICO Casualty), effective July 1, 2009, the rating agency says. USA Casualty is currently a clean shell company as it holds no loss reserves and has no active business writings.
Concurrently, A.M. Best has affirmed the FSR of B+ (good) and ICR of “bbb-” of ULLICO Casualty. The outlook for both ratings is positive.
S&P lowered its counterparty credit and FSR on USAble Life to 'A-' from 'A'. The outlook is stable.
The rating reflects USAble’s operating performance in the past two years being weaker than S&P had expected. USAble Life reported a pretax generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) operating gain of $6.4 million in 2009, producing a return on revenue (ROR) of 1.6%, below the 2% ROR that the rating agency had expected.
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