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Rating Action:

MOODYS CONFIRMS MARKEL CORPORATION RATINGS (SENIOR AT Baa2)

26 Jan 2000
MOODYS CONFIRMS MARKEL CORPORATION RATINGS (SENIOR AT Baa2) Moody's Investors Service has confirmed the credit ratings of Markel Corporation (senior debt at Baa2.) This concludes a review of the company's ratings for possible downgrade, initiated in August 1999, after the announcement that Markel would acquire Terra Nova Holdings, Ltd.

During its review, Moody's considered the impact of anticipated additional debt resulting from the transaction on Markel's capital strength and interest coverage. While Markel's financial leverage will be above peers, Moody's expects the company will reduce debt over the next several years, to a debt to capital ratio (including trust preferred securities) more in line with the company's historic mid-30% range. Interest coverage is expected to be adequate, supported by both Markel's and Terra Nova's earnings history. However, the rating agency noted that soft market conditions in commercial lines and reinsurance, continued losses due to catastrophes and anticipated deterioration in the Lloyd's market may put pressure on earnings going forward.

Elaborating on its rationale, Moody's noted the positive aspects of the acquisition; it is expected to result in greater geographic and product diversification and enhanced access to untapped markets. However, the rating agency does not expect that these factors will significantly enhance earnings, capital strength or growth. Going forward, Moody's will focus on Markel's ability to generate sufficient earnings to reduce debt and effectively manage its strategy of growth through acquisition.

The following ratings for Markel Corporation were confirmed:

Markel Corporation - Senior debt at Baa2; Junior subordinated debentures at Ba1;

Markel Capital Trust - Preferred stock at "baa3".

Markel Corporation is a Virginia-based insurance holding company for several insurance subsidiaries, in addition to several underwriting management companies that perform services for the subsidiaries. Markel underwrites property and casualty specialty coverages and programs and is ranked among the top ten largest surplus lines writers. As of September 30, 1999, Markel reported GAAP equity of $386 million, and net income of $35 million for the nine months ending September 30, 1999.

Terra Nova Holdings, Ltd. (Senior debt at Baa2) is a Bermuda-based holding company with primary underwriting operations in London, Bermuda, and France, as well as six Lloyd's syndicates managed by its subsidiary, Octavian Syndicate Management, Ltd. As of September 30, 1999, Terra Nova reported GAAP equity of $526 million, and net income of $46 million for the nine months ending September 30,1999.

No Related Data.
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