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19 Dec 1996
MOODY'S RAISES MARKEL CORPORATION'S SENIOR DEBT RATING TO Baa2, FROM Ba1
New York, 12-19-96 -- Moody's Investors Service has upgraded its rating on the senior debt of Markel Corporation to Baa2, from Ba1, concluding a review. Moody's also announced its current rating outlook is stable. According to Moody's, this rating action reflects Markel's proven leadership in underwriting and marketing specialty insurance products and programs, its consistently positive operating results, its disciplined underwriting practices, as well as its improving asset quality. These strengths are offset by the firm's aggressive financial strategies, including high financial leverage as well as use of short-term debt to finance acquisitions.
Expanding on its rating rationale, Moody's noted that a majority of Markel's revenues are derived from specialty insurance lines of business which allow more flexibility over rates and forms -- for example, excess and surplus lines, professional liability, and program business. In these specialty niches, barriers to entry tend to be higher and competition less pronounced, which enables Markel to compete on product differentiation, service and relationship-building, rather than strictly on price. As a result, Markel maintains higher operating margins relative to standard commodity insurance carriers, even under soft market conditions. In addition, Moody's noted that Markel has increased the quality of its investment portfolio by expanding its investments in fixed income securities -- in particular, investment grade corporate bonds.
Markel Corporation, based in Glen Allen, Virginia, USA, is a holding company engaged, through its subsidiaries, in underwriting and marketing specialty property and casualty insurance products and services. Markel reported consolidated assets and equity of approximately $1.4 billion and $250 million, respectively, as of September 30, 1996.
No Related Data.
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