Best Assigns AXIS Capital Debt Ratings

November 17, 2004

A.M. Best Co. announced that it has assigned a debt rating of “bbb” to AXIS Capital Holdings Limited’s recently issued $500 million 5.75 percent senior unsecured notes, due 2014. It also assigned an issuer credit rating of “bbb” to AXIS and noted that the financial strength rating of “A” (Excellent) along with all debt and operating company issuer credit ratings of Bermuda-based AXIS Specialty Limited and its affiliated companies are unaffected. All ratings have a stable outlook.

“The senior note issue has been drawn down from an existing $750 million universal shelf offering with proceeds to be used for general corporate purposes,” said Best. It indicated that the “proceeds will be used to maintain a high level of financial flexibility to support any possible opportunities for operational growth or capital realignment. AXIS’ debt-to-adjusted capital will continue to be low at approximately 14 percent. Fixed charge coverage is expected to remain in the high double-digit range.”

Best also stated that the “ratings reflect AXIS’ solid operations in the United States, Bermuda and Europe, offering diversified products in both the insurance and reinsurance markets. Operating results for the nine months ended September 30, 2004, have produced a combined ratio of 86.4 percent despite net losses of $227 million attributable to third quarter 2004 hurricane activity. Furthermore, AXIS has maintained excellent risk-adjusted capitalization, strong liquidity and a high quality investment portfolio. These strengths are partially offset by potential market pressure on pricing, which could dampen expected returns and exposure to low frequency, high severity property catastrophe losses.”

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