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Rating Action:

MOODY'S REVIEWS LONG TERM RATINGS OF OIL INSURANCE LIMITED (SENIOR DEBT AT Aa3) AND UNDERLYING RATING OF CATALYST CAPITAL, LTD. FOR POSSIBLE DOWNGRADE

09 Sep 2005
MOODY'S REVIEWS LONG TERM RATINGS OF OIL INSURANCE LIMITED (SENIOR DEBT AT Aa3) AND UNDERLYING RATING OF CATALYST CAPITAL, LTD. FOR POSSIBLE DOWNGRADE

New York, September 09, 2005 -- Moody's Investors Service announced today that it has placed the long-term debt and insurance financial strength ratings of Oil Insurance Limited ("OIL" -- senior unsecured debt at Aa3) on review for possible downgrade. In the same rating action, Moody's placed the Aa3 underlying rating on the insured floating rate notes of Catalyst Capital, Ltd. ("Catalyst Capital"), a $500 million contingent capital facility sponsored by OIL, on review for possible downgrade. The rating on OIL's extendible commercial notes was affirmed at Prime-1 with a stable outlook and the assigned rating on Catalyst Capital's insured floating rate notes was affirmed at Aaa with a stable outlook based on a financial guaranty policy provided by Ambac Assurance Corporation (insurance financial strength at Aaa). Moody's stated that the above rating actions stem from the potential for OIL to incur significant losses from Hurricane Katrina due to the company's exposure to oil, gas and energy-related property damage claims of its members in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Gulf Coast of the United States.

Moody's stated that OIL's membership currently consists of 85 petroleum, gas, energy, chemical and mining companies located in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, Latin America, the Middle East and South Africa. While OIL's maximum exposure to losses from Hurricane Katrina is capped at $1 billion due to the company's aggregate limit for losses arising from one event, such losses will further weaken OIL's capitalization, which sustained a net loss of $548 million during 2004 due to losses arising from Hurricane Ivan, an oil platform explosion in the Mediterranean Sea, and potential pollution claims arising from MTBE seepage into groundwater supplies. As of June 30, 2005, OIL had approximately $1.8 billion in statutory capital, which includes the proceeds from the issuance of the company's subordinated debt, as well as the available amount at Catalyst Capital, both of which qualify as statutory capital for Bermuda regulatory purposes. Moody's notes that at year-end 2004, OIL was required to maintain minimum statutory capital and surplus of approximately $171 million under Bermuda insurance regulations.

While OIL's potential losses from Hurricane Katrina are substantial, Moody's believes OIL's structural features mitigate the impact of the losses since the company's retrospective rating and premium plan mutualizes policy losses and requires that all losses experienced by the company be fully repaid by its members over a five-year period based on each member's allocable portion. Any uncollected amounts are required to be reallocated among the remaining members of OIL. The company has structural features which provide protection against its members exiting the arrangement before their contractual obligations have been fulfilled. If any of OIL's members declare bankruptcy, OIL would have an unsecured claim against the assets of the bankrupt entity for any unfunded premium obligations. Moody's also noted that the ratings consider the fact that OIL's senior debt obligations (including its extendible floating rate notes and extendible commercial notes) are unconditionally guaranteed by OIL's investment subsidiary, Oil Investment Corporation, Ltd., and rank senior to its policyholder liabilities.

Moody's stated that its review for possible downgrade would focus on the ultimate level of Hurricane Katrina losses incurred by OIL, the company's reduced capitalization relative to its assumed risks, and the potential for capital generation at the company over the near to medium term through its retrospective rating and premium plan. The rating agency further stated that if the rating review concludes with a downgrade of OIL's long-term ratings, the company's senior debt rating would most likely remain in the A rating category, which was a key consideration in affirming the company's short-term debt rating at Prime-1. However, Moody's notes that the ratings impact on OIL's subordinated notes could be more pronounced due to the potential for wider notching between the subordinated debt rating and the insurance financial strength rating, since, in Moody's opinion, the reduction of equity loss absorption capacity in the capital structure, at least until losses are recouped over time through OIL's retrospective rating and premium plan, results in an elevated risk profile for holders of the company's subordinated notes.

The following ratings have been affirmed with a stable outlook:

Oil Insurance Limited -- extendible commercial notes at Prime-1; and

Catalyst Capital, Ltd. -- insured floating rate notes at Aaa.

The following ratings have been placed on review for possible downgrade:

Oil Insurance Limited -- senior unsecured debt at Aa3, insurance financial strength at A1, subordinated debt at A2; and

Catalyst Capital, Ltd. -- underlying rating at Aa3 (The underlying rating is based on Moody's assessment of the notes of Catalyst Capital without the benefit of the financial guaranty insurance policy, but with terms otherwise unchanged).

OIL is a Bermuda-based insurance company established to serve certain insurance needs of its members, all of whom are petroleum, gas, energy, chemical or mining companies (or their insurance affiliates). The company writes property damage, well control and pollution liability insurance. For the six months ended June 30, 2005, OIL reported net income of $35 million. As of June 30, 2005, OIL had shareholders' equity of approximately $1 billion.

Moody's insurance financial strength ratings are opinions of the ability of insurance companies to repay punctually senior policyholder claims and obligations. For more information, visit our website at www.moodys.com/insurance.

New York
James Eck
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

New York
Robert Riegel
Managing Director
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

No Related Data.
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