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Rating Action:

Moody's assigns A2 IFSRs to REAAL Insurance's operations, Stable Outlook

05 Dec 2007
Moody's assigns A2 IFSRs to REAAL Insurance's operations, Stable Outlook

Axa Leven NV and Axa Schade NV Insurance Financial Strength Ratings downgraded and withdrawn

London, 05 December 2007 -- Moody's Investors Service has today announced that it assigned first-time insurance financial strength ratings (IFSR) of A2 to the insurance companies REAAL Levensverzekeringen and REAAL Schadeverzekeringen, based in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Moody's has also announced that it downgraded the IFSRs of AXA Leven NV and AXA Schade NV from Aa3 to A2, and will subsequently withdraw these ratings. This rating action concludes the review for the possible downgrade announced on 4 June 2007. The outlook of all the aforementioned ratings is stable.

In September 2007, SNS REAAL N.V. ("SNS", A3/P-2) acquired the insurance operations of AXA in the Netherlands and announced its intention to integrate these operations into its existing insurance companies. REAAL Verzekeringen NV ("REAAL"), the intermediary holding company for all the insurance operations of the bancassurance group SNS REAAL, now owns REAAL Levensverzekeringen, REAAL Schadeverzekeringen, Axa Leven NV, and Axa Schade NV. The Group also recently announced (19 November 2007) the acquisition of the Dutch and Belgian businesses of Swiss Life Holding. The acquisition is still subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to be completed in the first half of 2008. The Group also includes SNS Bank NV (C+/A1/P-1), holding company for the banking operations and an asset management company.

"The new A2 insurance financial strength ratings on REAAL Vezekeringen's main legal entities reflects the strengthening trend and good franchise of this insurance group in the Netherlands, particularly after the acquisition of AXA's Dutch operations and the prospective acquisition of the former Swiss Life entities, as well as the relatively low risk profile of the company" said Jose Morago, Moody's Assistant Vice-President/Analyst. Moody's added that the ratings are also supported by the core nature of the insurance entities within SNS' bancassurance structure, particularly with regards to our assessment of asset quality, capital management and financial flexibility of the group.

"However, there are material challenges for the group's insurance businesses, particularly a distribution strategy concentrated on brokers and third-parties intermediaries, a below average operating performance historically in the non-life business and material integration and execution risk related to recent acquisitions" Mr. Morago added. Moody's added that the ratings of the acquired former AXA entities are aligned with the A2 ratings of the enlarged SNS REAAL insurance operations, reflecting their expected high level of integration. Moody's will withdraw these ratings reflecting the forthcoming merger. Please refer to Moody's withdrawal policy at Moodys.com.

Commenting on what could result in upward pressure on REAAL Verzekeringen's operating companies' IFSR, Moody's mentioned a sustained improvement to the company's competitive position due to the successful integration of the groups' recent acquisitions, further control and diversification of the company's distribution channels, a significant enhancement in life and non-life underlying profitability, as well as improvements in the asset quality or/and the financial flexibility of the insurance operations.

Conversely, negative rating pressure could develop in the event of material erosion of the group's market position, a deterioration of asset quality, a decline in profitability and/or capitalisation, or a material deterioration of the financial flexibility of the insurance operations.

SNS REAAL is a bancassurance group headquartered in Utrecht, the Netherlands; focusing on the Dutch market, it reported total income of EUR3.6 billion and had shareholders' equity of EUR3.2 billion as of 31 December 2006. REAAL Verzekeringen reported Gross Premiums Written of EUR 2.0 billion (of which EUR1.6 billion in life and 0.4 billion in non-life) and had shareholders' equity of 1.3 billion as of 31 December 2006

The following first-time ratings were assigned with a stable outlook:

REAAL Levensverzekeringen NV -- insurance financial strength rating at A2;

REAAL Schadeverzekeringen NV -- insurance financial strength rating at A2.

.

The following ratings were downgraded and will be withdrawn:

Axa Leven NV -- insurance financial strength rating from Aa3 to A2;

Axa Schade NV -- insurance financial strength rating from Aa3 to A2.

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

London
Jose Morago
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

No Related Data.
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