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Announcement:

Moody's: Outlook for UK life insurance changed to stable from negative

07 Mar 2013

London, 07 March 2013 -- The outlook for the UK life insurance sector has been changed to stable from negative, says Moody's Investors Service in a new Industry Outlook published today. The outlook change reflects the rating agency's expectation of (1) stable earnings; (2) conservative capital management; and (3) increasing income diversity from captive asset managers. However, these factors are counterbalanced by (1) potential short-term disruption from the Retail Distribution Review (RDR); (2) the risks posed by insurers' expansion into "new" investment areas; and (3) the UK's weak economic growth outlook for the next several years.

The new report, entitled " Industry Outlook: UK Life Insurance ", is now available on www.moodys.com. Moody's subscribers can access this report via the link provided at the end of this press release.

"The profitability of the UK life industry is stable and supported by growing cash generation. We expect that the industry's earnings will remain healthy overall, whilst earnings quality will improve given the focus on cash generation," said Antonello Aquino, Moody's Senior Vice President and author of the report. "The low interest-rate environment will gradually reduce profitability, but only marginally, given the industry's relatively low sensitivity to interest rates", adds Mr Aquino.

Capitalisation has improved and Moody's expects continued conservative capital management. The introduction of Solvency II, although postponed, has kept capital in check. Capitalisation has rebounded from its lows in 2008 and is higher than pre-financial crisis levels. In addition, the industry's exposure to peripheral euro area investments is minimal.

Captive asset managers have helped insurers to capture significant growth, provided income diversity and helped some UK life insurers to expand and partially offset historical cash flow erosion in the life insurance market. Over 2013, Moody's expects that this trend will continue.

However, short-term disruption is likely to arise from the RDR. The introduction of RDR at the end of 2012 will reduce the number of Independent Financial Advisors (IFAs) and, consequently, life sales are likely to decline over the outlook period.

Insurers are increasing their credit exposure to new asset classes such as lending to commercial property companies, SME and infrastructure projects, albeit in modest amounts thus far. The retrenching of the UK banking system and the low interest-rate environment has meant that insurers are increasingly expanding their investment activities into the realm of banks. As a result,

Moody's believes that risks may arise from the insurance sector's often limited investment experience in these "new" assets and the need to develop specific expertise that companies might currently lack.

"The operating environment for UK insurers remains challenging, given the weak economic growth prospects and high level of household indebtedness, although some pockets of growth exist, particularly in the annuity and protection lines", adds Mr Aquino. Moody's also expects long-term growth from the expanding pensioner population, and the continued lack of an adequate level of private pension provision.

Subscribers can access this report via this link: http://www.moodys.com/research/UK-Life-Insurance--PBC_151294

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS ONLY: For more information, please call one of our global press information hotlines: London +44-20-7772-5456, New York +1-212-553-0376, Tokyo +813-5408-4110, Hong Kong +852-3758-1350, Sydney +61-2-9270-8141, Mexico City 001-888-779-5833, São Paulo 0800-891-2518, or Buenos Aires 0800-666-3506. You can also email us at mediarelations@moodys.com or visit our web site at www.moodys.com.

Antonello?Aquino
Senior Vice President
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
One Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London E14 5FA
United Kingdom
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Simon?Harris
MD - Financial Institutions
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
One Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London E14 5FA
United Kingdom
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's: Outlook for UK life insurance changed to stable from negative
No Related Data.
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