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17 Dec 2008
Moody's affirms AXA Financial (A2 senior) & subsidiaries with stable outlook
Approximately $1.5 billion of securities affected
New York, December 17, 2008 -- Moody's Investors Service today affirmed AXA Financial Inc.'s
(AXA Financial) credit ratings (senior debt at A2) and the Aa3 insurance
financial strength (IFS) ratings of its subsidiaries, including
AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company (AXA Equitable) and MONY Life Insurance
Company. AXA Financial is a wholly-owned subsidiary of AXA
SA (senior debt at A2), one of the largest financial services firms
in the world. The outlook on the ratings remains stable.
Moody's noted that a significant factor in the affirmation of AXA
Financial's ratings is the strong support from AXA SA, including
the recent $3 billion capital injection from the parent company
which serves to support AXA Equitable's capitalization levels.
In addition, the rating agency commented that the affirmation also
reflects AXA Financial's top-tier market positions in the
domestic variable annuity, life, and asset management markets,
as well as a strong brand and franchise in the individual retirement and
estate planning markets. AXA Financial utilizes diversified distribution
channels including a productive captive agency force, and has sizeable
in-force blocks of lower risk participating life policies.
According to Moody's, the company's investment portfolio
is high quality, with very minimal exposure to sub-prime
and Alt-A residential mortgage-backed securities and to
below-investment grade bonds.
However, Moody's noted that the financial strength of the
life insurance subsidiaries has been diminished on a stand-alone
basis. AXA Equitable's statutory capital as of September
30, 2008 has materially declined because of 1) the steep reduction
in market value of its sizeable equity interest in AllianceBernstein (AB),
and 2) the impact on regulatory reserve and capital requirements from
depressed equity markets given the company's large variable annuity business.
In addition, Moody's said that AXA Financial's prospective
profitability over the medium-term is likely to be constrained
given its concentration in equity-based variable insurance businesses
and the asset management operations of AB, as well as the likely
negative impact of the recession on both the investment portfolio and
revenues. As a result, the life companies' IFS ratings of
Aa3 are one notch higher than the rating that would be applied on a stand-alone
basis given the uplift provided by the strong demonstrated and implied
future support of the parent company.
The rating agency said a downgrade could occur if 1) prospective organic
capital generation is diminished due to materially lower profitability
(e.g. >25% decline), 2) the group fails
to address regulatory capital stress associated with the variable annuity
business and NAIC RBC levels fall below 300%, or 3) material
realized investment losses and impairments are sustained or deemed likely
to occur over the next several quarters (e.g., in
excess of $500 million pre-tax investment losses).
The following ratings have been affirmed with a stable outlook:
AXA Financial, Inc. -- senior unsecured debt
at A2, provisional senior unsecured debt at (P)A2, and provisional
subordinated and junior subordinated debt at (P)A3;
AXA Financial Capital Trust I, II, III and IV --
provisional trust preferred stock at (P)A3;
AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company -- insurance financial
strength at Aa3, and surplus notes at A2;
MONY Life Insurance Company -- insurance financial strength
at Aa3, and surplus notes at A2;
MONY Life Insurance Company of America -- insurance financial
strength at Aa3.
AXA Financial, Inc. is a financial services holding company
based in New York, New York. As of September 30, 2008
and on the basis of U.S. GAAP, the company reported
total consolidated assets of approximately $162 billion and shareholder's
equity of about $11.4 billion.
The last rating action on AXA Financial and its subsidiaries was on March
23, 2007 when AXA Financial's debt ratings were upgraded (senior
debt to A2 from A3) and the Aa3 IFS ratings on its life insurance subsidiaries
were affirmed with a stable outlook.
The principal methodology used in rating AXA Financial 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
Moody's insurance financial strength ratings are opinions of the ability
of insurance companies to punctually pay senior policyholder claims and
For more information, visit our website at www.moodys.com/insurance.
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
Ann G. Perry
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
No Related Data.
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