Ratings Roundup: Argonaut, Mitsui (China)

April 4, 2008

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services has affirmed its ‘BBB-‘ counterparty credit rating on Argonaut Group Inc. (AGI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Argo Group International Holdings Ltd. and its ‘A-‘ counterparty credit and financial strength ratings on AGI’s insurance company affiliates (collectively referred to as Argonaut). S&P also indicated that the outlook on AGI and Argonaut remains negative. “The affirmations follow the announcement that Peleus Reinsurance Ltd. (Peleus), a Bermuda-domiciled subsidiary of AGII, intends to acquire Heritage Underwriting Agency plc, a publicly traded Lloyds syndicate manager, for approximately $279 million,” said S&P (See IJ web site – https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/international/2008/04/03/88803.htm). “AGII will fund the purchase internally, with AGI providing a significant portion of the funds using cash and investments it currently holds, including the proceeds from the sale of PXRE Reinsurance Co., which closed on March 31. No funds will come from Argonaut, so the strong capitalization of the U.S. insurance operations will not be affected.” S&P credit analyst John Iten noted: “The ratings on AGI and Argonaut reflect the company’s diversified business mix, successful execution of its strategy, improving earnings, strong capitalization, conservative financial leverage, and strong fixed-charge coverage. Partially offsetting these positive factors has been the drag on the combined ratio from discontinued operations.”

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services has assigned its ‘A’ long-term counterparty credit and insurer financial strength ratings to Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance (China) Co. Ltd. (MSI China) with a stable outlook. “The ratings on MSI China reflect the company’s strategic importance to its parent, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co. Ltd. (AA/Stable/A-1+),” said S&P. “The rating also reflects MSI China’s strong standalone capitalization, and good business quality and operating performance,” noted S&P credit analyst Connie Wong. “These factors are, however, partly offset by the company’s relatively small market share but good niche position, compared with domestic players, and regulatory restrictions on foreign players in China’s insurance market.”

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.