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Rating Action:

MOODY'S DOWNGRADES RATINGS OF AMP GROUP (SENIOR DEBT TO Baa1 FROM A3); NEGATIVE OUTLOOK

07 Aug 2003
MOODY'S DOWNGRADES RATINGS OF AMP GROUP (SENIOR DEBT TO Baa1 FROM A3); NEGATIVE OUTLOOK

London, 07 August 2003 -- Moody's today downgraded the ratings of the AMP Group. Senior debt guaranteed by AMP Group Holdings is downgraded to Baa1 from A3, and subordinated debt to Baa2 from Baa1. The Reset Preference Shares issued by AMP Henderson Global Investors are downgraded to Baa3 from Baa2. AMP Life Ltd's insurance financial strength rating is downgraded to A1 from Aa3. Commercial paper issued by AMP Group Finance Services Ltd and AMP (UK) Finance Services plc is confirmed at P-2, stable outlook. Ratings on AMP Bank were also downgraded by one notch to Baa1 senior / Baa2 subordinated. AMP Bank's financial strength rating was confirmed at D, and commercial paper was confirmed at P-2, stable outlook. Ratings on UK entities of the Group were also downgraded, with insurance financial strength at National Provident Life and Pearl Assurance plc downgraded to Baa3 from Baa1, and subordinated debt at NPI Finance plc downgraded to Ba3 from Baa3. Negative outlooks apply to all long-term ratings. The ratings on GIO Finance Ltd have been withdrawn as the programmes are no longer active

The downgrades conclude the review initiated in May 2003 on announcement of the intention of the AMP group to demerge its UK and Australian businesses into two separate entities. AMP has completed its equity-raising plan, with A$1.75 billion of new equity raised through a combination of underwritten wholesale and retail share issues. The new equity is to be predominantly used to pay down intra-group and external debt, and Moody's expects a substantial portion of debt to be repaid in this way by end 2003. In addition, AMP has indicated that it expects to also use proceeds from other non-core asset sales to further reduce debt levels. Consequently, debt levels at new AMP will be substantially lower, in A$ terms, than previously.

However, in Moody's view, the reduced level of shareholder equity -- after asset writedowns and the indicative split of capital between the two new entities-- means that Moody's currently expects overall leverage at AMP to be higher than previously. More positively, Moody's notes that earnings generation from the new AMP Group is likely to be less volatile than historically seen, due to the Group's earnings being generated predominantly from the relatively stable Australian life and superannuation business (AMP Life). However, on balance Moody's views the leverage profile and debt service ability of the Group as likely to be more commensurate with the high Baa senior debt rating category. Commenting on the rating change for AMP Life (IFSR to A1 from Aa3), Moody's noted that part of the demerger process is likely to see the removal of intra-group capital supports from AMP Life to other Group entities, improving the quality of capital at AMP Life. Moody's also recognises positively recent actions aimed at de-risking the capital base of AMP Life. However, Moody's downgrade for AMP Life reflects the leverage issues above and the necessity for AMP Life -- as the main operating entity of the new AMP Group -- to support the Group's obligations.

In terms of the rated UK entities, the rating agency added that the two-notch reduction for insurance financial strength ratings at National Provident Life and Pearl Assurance plc (to Baa3 from Baa1) reflect the likely long-term low level of capitalisation that the funds will have in run-off. Moody's notes positively recent actions to de-risk the asset allocation of these funds, leading to a higher likelihood of maintenance of solvency and successful run-off. However Moody's rating also addresses the likely level of future benefit creation for policyholders which -- given the relatively low capitalisation and low-risk/return asset strategy -- is likely in Moody's view to be at lower levels than in the past. Moody's downgrade for the subordinated debt at NPI Finance plc reflects these concerns, along with a widening of notching between policyholder and subordinated debt to reflect widening rates of severity of loss between policyholders and debtholders at lower rating levels.

Moody's added that the negative outlook for the Group's long-term ratings reflects the uncertainty surrounding the completion of the sale process for certain non-core assets and the application of such proceeds to reduce debt levels, as well as the remaining transaction risk in successfully completing the demerger process.

AMP Group, headquartered in Sydney, Australia, had total assets of A$158 billion as at end 2002.

The following ratings were downgraded with a negative outlook

AMP Life Ltd Insurance financial strength to A1 from Aa3

AMP Group Holdings Ltd Senior debt to Baa1 from A3

AMP (UK) Finance Services plc Senior debt to Baa1 from A3

AMP Group Finance Services ltd Senior debt to Baa1 from A3; subordinated debt to Baa2 from Baa1

AMP Henderson Global Investors Ltd Preferred stock to Baa3 from Baa2

AMP Bank Ltd Long-term deposit rating to Baa1 from A3

Long-term senior debt to Baa1 from A3

Long-term subordinated debt to Baa2 from Baa1

Long-term junior subordinated debt to Baa2 from Baa1

National Provident Life Insurance financial strength to Baa3 from Baa1

Pearl Assurance plc Insurance financial strength to Baa3 from Baa1

NPI Finance plc Subordinated debt to Ba3 from Baa3

The following ratings were confirmed with a stable outlook

AMP (UK) Finance Services plc P-2 commercial paper

AMP Group Finance Services Ltd P-2 commercial paper

AMP Bank Ltd P-2 commercial paper

D bank financial strength

The following rating was downgraded and withdrawn

GIO Finance Ltd Senior debt to Ba1 from Baa3

The following rating was confirmed and withdrawn

GIO Finance Ltd P-2 commercial paper

London
Mark Hewlett
Managing Director
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456 SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

London
Simon Harris
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456 SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

No Related Data.
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