Ratings Recap: Fortis (Asia), Cattolica, West England Ship Owners, Endurance

November 20, 2007

A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating of ‘A-‘ (Excellent) and the issuer credit rating of “a-” of Bermuda-based Fortis Insurance Company (Asia) Limited (FICA) with a stable outlook. “The ratings reflect FICA’s adequate risk-based capitalization, favorable operating results and positive premium growth in both the linked and non-linked individual life portfolio,” said Best. “The ratings also consider the strategic importance of FICA to the Fortis group in the Asia Pacific region and the potential synergy after the integration of FICA into the group.”

A.M. Best Co. commented that the financial strength rating of ‘A’ (Excellent) and the issuer credit rating of “a” of Italy’s Societa Cattolica di Assicurazione – Societa Cooperativa (Cattolica) “remains unchanged following the announcement that Cattolica and Mapfre S.A. will not develop the planned motor joint venture, Mapfre Cattolica Auto, as it has not received the mandatory authorization from the Italian regulator (ISVAP) due to an operating and governance disagreement between Mapfre and Cattolica.” As a result Mapfre will not invest €473 million ($693million) in this joint venture; however, it will maintain its 8.5 percent stake in Cattolica.

A.M. Best
Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating of ‘A-‘ (Excellent) and the issuer credit rating of “a-” of the Luxembourg-based West of England Ship Owners Mutual Insurance Association (WOE) with a stable outlook. Best said it “believes that WOE will maintain excellent risk-adjusted capitalization despite an anticipated decline in free reserves at year-end February 2008 resulting from operational losses. This factor is likely to be partially offset by reducing underwriting risk due to an anticipated decrease in business volume. WOE benefits from significant financial flexibility deriving from the release call on the 2006 policy year of approximately $55 million, for which members have not been charged to date.”

A.M. Best Co. announced that it has upgraded the financial strength rating (FSR) to ‘A’ (Excellent) from A- (Excellent) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) to “a” from “a-“of Endurance Specialty Insurance Ltd. and its affiliates. Best also upgraded the ICR to “bbb” from “bbb-” and the debt ratings of Endurance Specialty Holdings Ltd. All of the companies are based in Bermuda. In addition Best upgraded the indicative ratings to “bb+’ from “bb” of Endurance Holdings Capital Trust I & II Ltd. The outlook for all the ratings has been revised to stable from positive. “These rating actions reflect Endurance’s excellent capitalization, improved historical operating performance, proactive capital management and significantly enhanced risk management capability,” Best explained. “The company operates on both primary and reinsurance platforms with coverage in both short and long-tail lines of business.”

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