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Announcement:

MOODY'S REPORTS: STABLE OUTLOOK FOR ITALIAN P&C INSURANCE BASED ON A STRONG OPERATING RESULTS, AND SUSTAINED CAPITAL AND BALANCE SHEET STRENGTH

 The document has been translated in other languages

04 May 2006
MOODY'S REPORTS: STABLE OUTLOOK FOR ITALIAN P&C INSURANCE BASED ON A STRONG OPERATING RESULTS, AND SUSTAINED CAPITAL AND BALANCE SHEET STRENGTH

Moody's expects a shallow-cycle for motor insurance in the medium term

London, 04 May 2006 -- Moody's Investors Service today announced that it has maintained its stable outlook for the Italian Property and Casualty (P&C) insurance industry in the context of a continued improvement in operating results, relatively conservative capitalisation and balance sheet strength, coupled with good growth prospects for the market. In 2005, the industry wrote premiums of €36.3 billion and reported one of the lowest growth rates since 1998 mainly due to continued flat motor tariffs and limited growth of new insurance exposures, against a background of high oil costs and an unfavourable macro-economic environment.

According to Moody's, in the past few years much of the absolute growth and profitability in Italian P&C has been driven by motor lines, which represents approximately 60% of the industry's P&C gross premiums. Particularly, recent positive trends in Motor Third-Party Liability (MTPL) reflect significant improvements in the insurers' underwriting and the substantial re-pricing of the book of business of the last few years, on the back of important structural changes and new legislation. Moreover, industry consolidation has resulted in the top 10 P&C groups having a market share of approximately 87%, which has strengthened their influence and control over pricing.

However, the report states that recent developments suggest that motor rates have already reached their peak and have started to fall. "Downward pressure on motor tariffs, coupled with upward pressure on loss experience due to a continued increase in average claim size, is ultimately putting pressure on the profitability of insurers", says Jose Morago, a Moody's Analyst and author of the new Industry Outlook. "Thus, in the medium term Moody's expects a shallow cycle with a gradual easing of tariffs (rather than a 'price war') and a fairly stable loss experience, all of which should lead to more sustainable profitability and loss ratio levels than have been seen in the last couple of years."

Moody's added that all other non-motor lines in the Italian P&C Industry have historically contributed a stable stream of premiums and technical profits with the main exception of General Third-Party Liability (GTPL), which is probably the most troubled business line in the Italian P&C Industry. The GTPL segment had a negative technical result for the past seven years, leading to insurers pruning their portfolios and/or prompting them to stop writing policies for some of the most troubled GTPL categories, such as doctors, lawyers and hospitals.

In terms of growth prospects, Moody's said that although Italy represents 10% of the EU non-life insurance market, the country is under-insured compared with other EU member states, thus creating an opportunity for future growth. In the year under review, less than 3% of Italy's GDP was spent on P&C insurance (vs. European average just below 4%). Insurance penetration is comparatively even lower in non-motor lines, which represent less than 1% of the country's GDP.

"Other strengths of the Italian P&C market include limited exposure to riskier long-tail and commercial P&C lines, a generally conservative investment policy, a strong capitalisation and reserving position, as well as good growth potential (mainly for non-motor lines). However, a latent risk of political intervention (from the government or from the lobbying of consumers' associations) on motor tariffs and increased competition are challenges for the Italian P&C insurers", Mr. Morago added.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS ONLY: For a copy of this report, please contact Daniel Piels in London +44-20-7772-5456; New York Press Information +1-212-553-0376; Juan Pablo Soriano in Madrid +34-91-310-1454; Henry MacNevin in Milan +39-02-58-215-580; Eric de Bodard in Paris +331-5330-1076; Detlef Scholz in Frankfurt +49-69-707-30-700; Mardig Haladjian in Limassol +357-25-586-586; Alex Sazhin in Moscow +7495 514 1670; Petr Vins in Prague +4202 2422 2929; Tokyo Press Information +813-5408-4110; Hilary Parkes in Toronto +1-416-214-1635; Hong Kong Press Information +852-2916-1150; Melinda Keating in Sydney +612 9270 8141; Luiz Tess in São Paulo +55-11-3443-7444; Alberto Jones Tamayo in Mexico City +5255-9171-1824; Daniel Rúas in Buenos Aires +54 11-4816-2332 ext. 105; or Reynold Leegerstee in Johannesburg +27-11-217-5471 or visit our web site at www.moodys.com

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

London
Jose Morago
Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

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