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Announcement:

Moody's affirms General Re's Aa1 insurance financial strength rating; outlook stable

Global Credit Research - 22 Nov 2010

New York, November 22, 2010 -- Moody's Investors Service has affirmed the Aa1 insurance financial strength rating of General Reinsurance Corporation and its rated affiliates (General Re) and the Prime-1 rating for commercial paper of its immediate parent, General Re Corporation. The outlook for the ratings is stable. General Re is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (Berkshire -- long-term issuer rating of Aa2, short-term issuer rating of Prime-1, stable outlook, NYSE: BRK-A).

According to Moody's, the Aa1 insurance financial strength ratings of General Re's principal operating subsidiaries reflect the company's strong market presence, its favorable underwriting results and profitability, its moderate operating leverage and its sound capital base. The insurance financial strength ratings also reflect the implicit and explicit support provided by Berkshire and certain Berkshire affiliates.

General Re's strengths are tempered by the competitive pressures in the global reinsurance market, the potential for adverse loss reserve development on long-tail casualty lines, the inherent volatility presented by catastrophe exposed business, and by its higher level of exposure to common and preferred equities and below-investment-grade bonds relative to its peers. While this investment style can add volatility to the company's earnings and capital base, Moody's notes that the potential impact of investment risk on the overall credit profile of General Re is somewhat mitigated by the firm's low operating and financial leverage metrics, as well by the implicit and explicit support provided by Berkshire.

Given General Re's current rating, its business profile and the competitive environment in the reinsurance sector, Moody's notes that there is limited potential for upward rating movement. However, an upgrade of Berkshire-owned affiliate National Indemnity Company (NICO -- insurance financial strength at Aa1), which provides explicit support to General Re in the form of retrocessional reinsurance, could result in an upgrade.

The rating agency added that the following factors could lead to a rating downgrade: (i) a deterioration in underwriting results (e.g., combined ratio above 105%); (ii) significant adverse loss reserve development (e.g., exceeding 5% of net reserves in a given year); (iii) gross underwriting leverage above 3.5x; or (iv) a downgrade of NICO's insurance financial strength rating.

The following ratings have been affirmed with a stable outlook:

General Re Corporation -- commercial paper at Prime-1;

General Reinsurance Corporation -- insurance financial strength at Aa1;

General Reinsurance AG -- insurance financial strength at Aa1; and

General Reinsurance UK Limited -- insurance financial strength at Aa1.

The last rating action affecting General Re occurred on April 8, 2009, when its insurance financial strength ratings were downgraded by one notch in connection with downgrades of NICO and Berkshire.

Based in Stamford, Connecticut, General Re Corporation is a holding company for a leading global reinsurance group. The company offers a broad range of property & casualty and life & health reinsurance coverages worldwide, mostly on a direct basis, and to a lesser extent, through brokers. The company reported approximately $4 billion of net premiums written and $834 million of GAAP net income during the nine months ended September 30, 2010. As of September 30, 2010, GAAP shareholder equity was approximately $13.7 billion. General Re Corporation is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which acquired the company in 1998.

The principal methodology used in rating General Re was Moody's Global Rating Methodology for Reinsurers, published in July 2008 and available on www.moodys.com in the Rating Methodologies sub-directory under the Research & Ratings tab. Other methodologies and factors that may have been considered in the process of rating this issuer can also be found in the Rating Methodologies sub-directory on Moody's website.

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

New York
James Eck
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

New York
Stanislas Rouyer
Senior Vice President
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Moody's Investors Service
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.

Moody's affirms General Re's Aa1 insurance financial strength rating; outlook stable
No Related Data.
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