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Rating Action:

Moody's Places Prudential Assurance Company Ratings (Aa1 IFSR) On Review Down; Prudential plc ratings affirmed, stable outlook

08 Dec 2008
Moody's Places Prudential Assurance Company Ratings (Aa1 IFSR) On Review Down; Prudential plc ratings affirmed, stable outlook

London, 08 December 2008 -- Moody's Investors Service announced today that it had placed the Aa1 insurance financial strength rating (IFSR) of Prudential Assurance Company (PAC), the main UK insurance business of Prudential plc, together with the Aa1 IFSR of Scottish Amicable Insurance Fund (SAIF), on review for possible downgrade. The rating on one of the other UK operating entities, Prudential Annuities Limited (PAL, Aa2) and also the group holding company ratings of Prudential plc (A2 senior debt) were all affirmed with a stable outlook. The rating of another UK operating entity, Prudential Retirement Income Limited (PRIL, Aa3), was placed on review for possible upgrade. (A complete list of ratings follows below.)

The review for possible downgrade follows the negative outlook assigned to PAC in May 2007, and is driven by: 1) concerns over Prudential's UK market position in relation to PAC's Aa1 IFSR, and 2) the negative impact that the current economic turbulence in the UK and the global deterioration in investment markets may have on its capital position on a medium-to-long-term basis, given the importance of capitalisation in Moody's ratings of PAC. The rating action also follows Moody's recent change in outlook for the UK life insurance industry to negative from stable. (See Moody's UK Life Insurance Industry Outlook published on December 5, 2008.) Moody's expects any potential lowering of the ratings to be limited to one notch, given PAC's very strong credit profile.

At the Prudential plc level, ratings were affirmed with a stable outlook reflecting the positive contributions from other business units, which offset pressures at PAC. Most notably, the Asian business, which has leading market positions in multiple territories, has seen rapid growth while reaching a certain level of maturity in statutory profitability and positive cash flows. The Asian business' emphasis is also on very high margin unit linked products with relatively low capital strain. At the same time, the US insurance business, via Jackson National (A1 IFSR, stable outlook), remains an important contributor to the Group's IFRS and Embedded Value operating profits, and M&G asset management has delivered consistent and growing profits to the group.

The decision to affirm the ratings of PAL and place on review for possible upgrade the ratings of PRIL reflects the potential for the ratings of Prudential UK's operating entities to be aligned as these units are increasingly managed and regulated on a consolidated basis.

Commenting further on PAC's rating, Moody's said it assigned a negative outlook to PAC's IFSR in May 2007 primarily as a result of the expectation of a market position which may become inconsistent with the current rating level. The rating agency believes that Prudential's market presence in the UK is excellent in certain product lines such as immediate annuities and with-profits savings business. However, aggregate and relative market share metrics, reflecting Prudential's focus on higher margin products, fell again during 2007, although Prudential UK's market position has increased during the first nine months of 2008. Notwithstanding the strong growth in 2008 to-date, Moody's continues to question PAC's market position in relation to its extremely high rating of Aa1.

The rating agency said that in addition to Prudential's prospective market position and product mix in the UK, its review will focus on PAC's capital adequacy under Pillar I, Pillar II and MASC ratio bases, including the effect of the volatile equity market on PAC's heavily equity-based with-profit business. Although PAC's solvency has been viewed as extremely strong, and Moody's notes the hedging strategy with regard to the significant equities exposure in the with-profits fund, surplus levels, as with other UK Life players, are likely to have reduced during 2008. In its recent UK Life report, Moody's highlights, inter alia, deterioration in industry capital over the past six to 12 months, and that if the economy does enter a relatively prolonged period of slowdown, with an associated depressed equity market, industry capitalisation levels are unlikely to improve markedly in the short-to-medium term, and further downside risk may remain material.

Prudential plc is an international retail financial services group headquartered in London with total assets of GBP220bn at year end 2007.

The following ratings were placed on review for possible downgrade:

Prudential Assurance Company IFSR Aa1

Scottish Amicable Insurance Fund IFSR Aa1

Scottish Amicable Finance plc subordinated debt Aa3

The following ratings were affirmed with a stable outlook:

Prudential Annuities Limited IFSR Aa2

Prudential plc senior debt A2

Prudential plc subordinated debt A3

Prudential plc junior subordinated debt Baa1

Prudential plc commercial paper P-1

The following rating was placed on review for possible upgrade:

Prudential Retirement Income Limited IFSR Aa3

The last rating action was on 16 May 2007 when a negative outlook was assigned to PAC and SAIF's ratings, and PAL, PRIL, and Prudential plc's ratings were affirmed with a stable outlook.

The principal methodology used in rating PAC was "Moody's Global Rating Methodology for Life Insurers", which can be found at www.moodys.com in the Credit Policy & Methodologies directory, in the Ratings Methodologies subdirectory. Other methodologies and factors that may have been considered in the process of rating this issuer can also be found in the Credit Policy & Methodologies directory.

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

London
Dominic Simpson
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

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