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Rating Action:


10 Jan 1997
MOODY'S ASSIGNS "baa3" RATING TO ORION CAPITAL TRUST I CAPITAL SECURITIES; CONFIRMS OTHER ORION RATINGS (INSURANCE FINANCIAL STRENGTH AT A3) New York, 1/10/1997 -- Moody's Investors Service assigned a "baa3" rating to the $125 million of 8.73% Capital Securities of Orion Capital Trust I, as well as assigned a Ba1 rating to the related junior subordinated debentures issued by Orion Capital Corporation to Orion Capital Trust I. In addition, Moody's confirmed Orion's various other ratings, including Orion Corporation senior debt at Baa2, and the insurance financial strength ratings of Orion's property/casualty intercompany pool members at A3. However, due to the overall net increase in combined debt plus preferred securities for the firm, Moody's has revised its rating outlook for the Orion group to negative, from stable.
According to Moody's, Orion's ratings reflect the group's profitable and focused property/casualty commercial and specialty lines operations, its strong market position in certain professional liability lines, as well as its disciplined underwriting approach and favorable operating performance in recent years. In addition, there are insignificant exposures to latent environmental/asbestos liabilities, as well as little exposure to property catastrophe losses. These positive factors are tempered by increasing financial leverage, as well as by the group's above-average investment risk profile.
The Capital Securities were sold in a private placement offering to qualified institutional buyers under SEC Rule 144A; in turn, the net proceeds will be used to acquire designated junior subordinated debentures issued by Orion Capital Corporation. Orion intends to use the proceeds from the sale of the junior subordinated debentures for general corporate purposes, which may include investments in and advances to operating subsidiaries, as well as the financing of growth and expansion.
The following ratings were assigned:
Orion Capital Trust I -- "baa3" rating to the Capital Securities.
Orion Capital Corporation -- Ba1 to the junior subordinated debentures.
The following ratings were confirmed:
Orion Capital Corporation -- senior debt at Baa2. Orion Capital Companies' intercompany pool members -- A3 rating for insurance financial strength. The rated pool members are: Connecticut Indemnity Company; Design Professionals Insurance Company; EBI Indemnity Company; Employee Benefits Insurance Company, Fire & Casualty Insurance Company of Connecticut; Security Insurance Company Hartford.
Orion Capital Corporation, based in New York City, is a holding company which, through its operating subsidiaries, concentrates in niche markets of the property/casualty insurance business, including workers compensation, professional liability, and non-standard automobile insurance. Orion reported consolidated assets of $3.4 billion and shareholder equity of $530 million as of September 30, 1996.
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