Ratings Recap: Allianz (UK), Generali (France), Generali (Germany), BEST Re

August 21, 2008

A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating of ‘A+’ (Superior) and issuer credit rating of “aa” of UK-based Allianz Insurance plc (AZI) with a stable outlook. Best stated: “AZI’s stand-alone risk-adjusted capitalization is expected to remain excellent during 2008 and 2009,” despite the likely payment of dividends to its parent company, Germany’s Allianz Societas Europaea (Allianz SE) (Germany). “The ratings also continue to factor the significant financial flexibility that AZI derives from Allianz SE’s access to capital markets and from reinsurance support provided by Allianz group subsidiaries.” Best also indicated it expects AZI to maintain a solid combined ratio in 2008 of between 95 percent and 100 percent, despite further anticipated rate weakening for its major commercial lines of business. Performance is likely to be supported by releases from prior year reserves and less severe catastrophe experience compared to 2007, which was affected by U.K. flood losses.

A.M. Best Co. has assigned a financial strength rating (FSR) of “A+” (Superior) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of “aa-” to Generali Assurances Vie SA and Generali Assurances IARD SA, the Italian insurer’s French P/C subsidiary. Best also assigned an ICR of “a-” to their non-operating holding parent, Generali France S.A. The outlook for all ratings is stable. “The ratings reflect Generali France and its subsidiaries’ diversified business profile in France, strong but declining financial and good risk-adjusted capitalization as well as support by their ultimate parent, Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A.,” said Best. “Generali France maintains a strong competitive position in France.” Best said it “anticipates that the consolidated gross written premium for the year-end 2008 will increase by 5 to 6 percent. Life premiums are expected to grow by up to 7 percent in 2008 as Generali Vie continues to grow at above French market average rates with demand for traditional products replacing the declining unit-linked sales. Generali IARD is anticipated to experience premium growth of up to 4 percent mainly driven by its property, health and travel insurance businesses.”

A.M. Best Co. has assigned a financial strength rating (FSR) of ‘A+’ (Superior) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of “aa-” to Germany’s AMB Generali Holding AG and its main subsidiaries. The outlook for all ratings is stable. “The ratings reflect AMB Generali’s strong position in the German market, resilient operating performance and its strong but declining financial performance,” Best explained. “The AMB Generali group has an excellent business profile in the German insurance market, where according to gross written premiums (GWP, local GAAP), it is the second-largest composite insurer.” Best indicated that it believes “consolidated premiums are likely to grow by up to 2 percent in 2008 as AMB Generali experiences growth in life/health premiums on a background of a largely stagnating market. Life business (59 percent of total consolidated GWP) is likely to show a moderate premium in 2008 as the company benefits from the fourth Riester step-up. Non-life business (26 percent of total) will remain largely stable as the growth in property business is offset by declining motor premiums.”

A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating of ‘A-‘ (Excellent) and the issuer credit rating of “a-” of B.E.S.T. Reinsurance (BEST Re) (Tunisia). The outlook on both ratings remains stable. Best said the “ratings of BEST Re reflect its significant importance to its ultimate parent, SALAMA Islamic Arab Insurance Company (P.S.C.) (SALAMA). The ratings also reflect BEST Re’s improving business diversification, solid financial performance with consistently profitable technical accounts and declining, although strong, risk-adjusted capitalization.” Best noted that the reinsurer’s “business profile is further improving with continuous gross premium expansion through new business and increasing shares in existing treaties in the emerging markets such as the Far East, Central Asia, North Africa and Middle East.

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