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Announcement:

Moody's: Outlook for Japanese P&C insurance industry remains negative

23 Feb 2009

Tokyo, February 23, 2009 -- The outlook for the Japanese property and casualty (P&C) insurance industry remains negative, according to a new report from Moody's Investors Service, attributable to the limited growth opportunities and downward pressure on revenue and profits in domestic P&C market, especially in auto insurance, and the pressure exerted by the volatile global financial market on insurers' capital and profits.

The report, entitled "Industry Outlook: Japanese Property and Casualty Insurance," comments that unrealized gains in the Japanese P&C insurers' equity portfolios have declined due to the material decline in Japan's equity market. Consequently, insurers' risk buffers -- that is, their ability to cover unexpected underwriting or catastrophe risks -- have deteriorated.

The majors are also vulnerable to volatility in the foreign financial markets because of their exposures to foreign securitized financial products. This situation is likely to last for some time, which will continue to pressure the insurers' capital and profits.

"The major Japanese P&C insurers' exposure to subprime has been limited, and thus no rating actions have ensued. Still, insurers are exposed to foreign financial securitized products to some extent and are not completely shielded from volatile foreign financial markets," writes Masahiko Miwa, Moody's AVP-Analyst and author of the report.

"The pressure on capital and profits stemming from equity exposure, in combination with significant losses stemming from exposure to foreign financial securitized products, could be material enough to affect ratings."

Moody's is of the view that the domestic auto insurance business -- the core business of the major Japanese P&C insurers -- has limited growth opportunities; insurers revenue and profits are also facing downward pressure. Given the stagnating Japanese population, the number of automobiles owned in Japan is unlikely to rise -- a situation that can be regarded as a structural issue.

To make things worse, the overall economy is facing difficulty with regard to growth, and thus domestic auto insurance, as well as domestic fire insurance, will likely face greater than ever downward pressure on revenue and profits.

Given this environment, insurers will likely seek growth opportunities overseas. To that end, Tokio Marine & Nichido completed its acquisition of Philadelphia Consolidated Holding Corp. in 2008, the company's biggest ever deal.

In any event, the turmoil in the global financial markets will likely limit insurers' flexibility for a while, given its dampening effect on their capital, although we can still expect overseas business expansion in the medium term.

The report can be found at www.moodys.com.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS ONLY: For more information please contact New York Press Information +1-212-553-0376; EMEA Press Information in London +44-20-7772-5456; Juan Pablo Soriano in Madrid +34-91-310-1454; Alex Cataldo in Milan +39-02-914-81-100; 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 +7 495 228 60 60; 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; Hector Lim in Sydney +612 9270 8102; Luiz Tess in São Paulo +5511-3043-7300; Alberto Jones Tamayo in Mexico City +5255-1253-5700; Daniel Rúas in Buenos Aires +54 11-4816-2332 ext. 105; Craig Jamieson in Johannesburg +27-11-217-5470; Jehad el-Nakla in Dubai +971 4 401 9536; or visit our web site at www.moodys.com

Tokyo
Masahiko Miwa
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Japan K.K.
JOURNALISTS: (03) 5408-4110
SUBSCRIBERS: (03) 5408-4100

Tokyo
Kyosuke Kaji
Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Japan K.K.
JOURNALISTS: (03) 5408-4110
SUBSCRIBERS: (03) 5408-4100

Moody's: Outlook for Japanese P&C insurance industry remains negative
No Related Data.
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