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Rating Action:

MOODY'S REVIEWS FOR POSSIBLE DOWNGRADE AMP GROUP'S INSURANCE FINANCIAL STRENGTH, GROUP SENIOR UNSECURED DEBT AND BANK DEPOSIT RATINGS; REVIEWS FOR POSSIBLE UPGRADE NPI'S RATINGS

22 Dec 1998
MOODY'S REVIEWS FOR POSSIBLE DOWNGRADE AMP GROUP'S INSURANCE FINANCIAL STRENGTH, GROUP SENIOR UNSECURED DEBT AND BANK DEPOSIT RATINGS; REVIEWS FOR POSSIBLE UPGRADE NPI'S RATINGS Moody's Investors Service placed on review for possible downgrade the Aa1 insurance financial strength rating of AMP Life Limited, the Aa2 insurance financial strength rating of Pearl Assurance plc, the backed senior unsecured Aa2 rating of AMP (UK) plc and the senior unsecured Aa3 rating of AMP Group Holdings Limited, and the backed senior unsecured Aa3 ratings of AMP (UK) Finance Services plc and AMP Group Finance Services Limited. Also placed on review for possible downgrade are the A2/Prime-1 bank deposit rating and A2 issuer rating of AMP Bank Limited. AMP Bank's D+ bank financial strength rating is confirmed.


At the same time Moody's placed National Provident Institution's ("NPI") A2 insurance financial strength rating and NPI Finance plc's Baa1 subordinated guaranteed bond rating under review for possible upgrade. Also placed under review for possible upgrade is the A3 rating of Mutual Securitisation plc's limited recourse bonds.


These reviews follow the announcement by AMP of its agreed approximately œ2.7 billion take-over of NPI, the UK life and pensions mutual. AMP's bid is subject to approval by NPI's policyholders and the UK law courts. If successful the bid is not expected to be completed until the third quarter of 1999, the rating agency added. The bid would create a combined operation well within the UK's top ten life and pensions companies by size, with critical mass in the UK's two main distribution channels - IFAs and tied agents.


Moody's noted that the business rationale of the NPI bid is sound and consistent with AMP's stated strategy of developing its international life insurance operations. Moody's added that the NPI bid is concurrent with AMP's AUD3 billion bid for GIO, the Australian non-life and reinsurance group, announced in August this year.


The rating agency said that the review would evaluate the effect of the two bids on the AMP group's financial strength and operating company capitalisation, including its level of core group debt, and the benefits of potential synergies and cost savings. The review would also consider the outlook for the group's strategic business mix following the completion of both bids. It would in addition review AMP's capacity to manage the operational challenge of integrating the acquired entities' distribution channels, product ranges and investment operations. The rating agency notes that the likelihood of both bids being successful appears currently to be quite high.


With regard to Pearl Assurance plc ("Pearl"), which is the acquiring company in the NPI bid, Moody's noted that there is likely to be some dilution of Pearl's financial strength because the proposed structure of the bid involves a substantial use of Pearl's policyholder funds.


Finally, the rating agency said that NPI would benefit from becoming part of a financially stronger group, and that its capitalisation is likely to be improved. In addition, NPI would be a good fit with AMP's existing UK businesses, in particular, Pearl, and Henderson Investment Management ("Henderson") since NPI's strong IFA customer franchise complements Pearl's tied agent distribution and "home service" franchise, while also providing cross-selling opportunities for Henderson's products.


The following ratings were placed on review for possible downgrade:


AMP Life Limited Statutory Funds -- Aa1 insurance financial strength rating


Pearl Assurance plc Long-term Fund -- Aa2 insurance financial strength rating


AMP Group Holdings Limited -- Aa3 senior unsecured MTN rating


AMP (UK) Finance Services plc -- backed senior unsecured Aa3 rating


AMP Group Finance Services Limited -- backed senior unsecured Aa3 rating


AMP (UK) plc -- Aa2 backed senior unsecured bond


AMP Bank Limited - A2/Prime-1 bank deposit ratings and A2 issuer rating


The following ratings were placed on review for possible upgrade:


NPI -- A2 insurance financial strength rating


NPI Finance plc -- Baa1 subordinated guaranteed bond rating


Mutual Securitisation plc -- A3 rating of limited recourse bonds.


The following ratings were confirmed:


AMP (UK) plc -- Prime-1 commercial paper rating


AMP Group Finance Services Limited -- Prime-1 commercial paper rating


AMP Bank Limited - D+ bank financial strength rating


AMP Ltd, headquartered in Sydney, Australia, is a financial services holding company and reported pro-forma consolidated assets of Aus$95.2 billion and shareholders' equity of Aus$7.1 billion at December 31, 1997.


NPI, headquartered in Tunbridge Wells, England, had total admissible assets of œ10.4 billion and surplus available assets of œ1.1 billion at December 31, 1997.


Pearl Assurance plc, headquartered in Peterborough, England, had total admissible assets of œ14.5 billion and surplus available assets of œ2.7 billion at December 31, 1997.

No Related Data.
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