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Rating Action:

Moody's changes the outlook on Ageas SA/NV to positive. Issuer rating affirmed at Baa3

30 May 2016

London, 30 May 2016 -- Moody's Investors Service has today changed the outlook on Ageas SA/NV to positive and affirmed the Baa3 issuer rating of Ageas SA/NV. A list of all the ratings affected by this rating action is available at the end of the press release.

RATINGS RATIONALE

The change in outlook to positive reflects Moody's view that the recent settlement agreement filed in the Netherlands is a fundamental milestone towards resolving the uncertainty related to the legal risks and the corresponding costs arising from legacy issues in relation to Fortis group (as the issuer was formerly known) for events occurred in 2007 and 2008.

The Baa3 long-term issuer rating of Ageas SA/NV reflects the combined financial strength and dividend capacity of the group's operating insurance companies, the subordination of the holding company creditors, and sound liquidity and capital positions at the holding company. Ageas Baa3 rating is four notches below the A2 Insurance Financial Strength Rating of the main operating company, AG Insurance; this additional notch than the standard three notches reflects the risks arising from the above mentioned legacy issues. A possible resolution of these issues is likely to put upward pressure to this rating, hence the positive outlook.

Last March Ageas announced to have agreed with four claimants' organisations on a deal to indemnify eligible shareholders in the amount of EUR1.2 billion. This agreement, which according to the issuer represented an estimated 90% of the shares involved in said litigations, has been subsequently endorsed by other claimants and then submitted for filing with the Amsterdam Court of Appeal on 23 May 2016.

Moody's notes that the settlement will not be approved and binding until: (1) the court approves the deal on the grounds of it being reasonable and fair and (2) Ageas chooses not to exercise its termination right which entitles the issuer to end the agreement if more than 5% of shareholders eligible for compensation decide to opt-out. This option protects Ageas against the scenario of interested parties extensively opting-out, which could be accompanied with further legal proceedings and costs.

The entire legal proceeding will likely take an estimated 12-18 months and Ageas expects the filed agreement to be eventually approved given the high amount of claimants being represented and endorsing the deal. Moody's is likely to solve the positive outlook only when the legal proceeding has been concluded and Ageas proceeds with the compensation.

As a result of the settlement proposal, Ageas estimates a net cash outflow of EUR1.02 billion. This amount is expected to be gradually paid over a period of two to three years from now, depending on the pace at which the legal procedure can be executed. At 1Q 2016 Ageas reported a liquidity position of EUR1.2 bn, which is sufficient to cover the expected cash outflow. Additionally, the company received EUR 1.26 billion from the sale of the group's Hong Kong life insurance business which completed earlier in May 2016. Overall, Moody's anticipates that Ageas liquidity buffer and group solvency will remain sound and able to address future possible liquidity needs, such as the possible repurchase of the non-controlled interest in AG Insurance, at the election of BNP Paribas Fortis, which was valued at EUR1.1 bn at 31 March 2016.

As concerns the capitalization of Ageas, the reduction in Solvency II capital ratio by around 20ppts as a result of the expected settlement (180% reported as at 1Q 2016, which already reflects the impact of the expected settlement) will be more than compensated by the sale of the Hong Kong business, which is expected to boost the group Solvency II coverage ratio by 30ppts.

Ageas SA/NV is the holding company of the Ageas Group, a composite insurer active in several markets, primarily focused on writing insurance business in Belgium, Continental Europe, United Kingdom, and in Asia via partnerships.

As at 31 December 2015 Ageas reported total assets of EUR104.5bn (YE 2014: EUR103.6bn), total equity of EUR12bn (YE 2014: EUR10.9bn) and a consolidated net income attributable to shareholders of EUR770.2 million (YE 2014: EUR475.6 million).

FINANCING VEHICLES

Moody's said that the affirmations of Ageas Hybrid Financing and Ageasfinlux S.A. ratings reflect the guarantees received by these financing vehicles from the Group's holding company and therefore follow the affirmation of Ageas SA/NV rating. The hybrid debt issued by Ageas Hybrid Financing, Hybrone, has been on-lent to AG Insurance, and is therefore economically matched by a loan to this operating entity. Ageas intends to call the Hybrone Securities on 20 June 2016. The FRESH securities, perpetual and mandatory convertible debt, were issued by Ageasfinlux with Ageas SA/NV acting as co-obligor.

For more information on the ratings of these hybrid securities, please refer to Moody's Credit Opinion.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATINGS UP/DOWN

AGEAS SA/NV

Upward pressure on the rating may result from (i) a favourable resolution of outstanding legal disputes and/or ii) a material improvement of the financial strength of the operating companies, notably through an upgrade of the A2 IFSR of AG Insurance

Conversely, while a downgrade is unlikely given the positive outlook, negative pressure on the rating may be the result of (i) a negative outcome of the settlement agreement filed in the Netherlands and/or of any remaining legal dispute which could, in adverse scenarios, materially affect the financial resources of the holding company and/or (ii) a deterioration of the financial strength of the operating companies, principally evidenced by a downgrade of the A2 IFS rating of AG Insurance.

Principal Methodologies

The methodologies used in these ratings were Global Life Insurers published in April 2016, and Global Property and Casualty Insurers published in April 2016. Please see the Ratings Methodologies page on www.moodys.com for a copy of these methodologies.

RATING LIST

The following ratings have been affirmed:

Ageas SA/NV -- Long term issuer rating at Baa3

Ageas Hybrid Financing -- Backed pref stock debt rating at Ba2 (hyb)

Ageasfinlux S.A. -- Backed junior subordinated debt rating at Ba3 (hyb)

Outlook action:

Outlook on all issuers changed to Positive from Negative

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series or category/class of debt or pursuant to a program for which the ratings are derived exclusively from existing ratings in accordance with Moody's rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the credit rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular credit rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider's credit rating. For provisional ratings, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive rating that may be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt, in each case where the transaction structure and terms have not changed prior to the assignment of the definitive rating in a manner that would have affected the rating. For further information please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page for the respective issuer on www.moodys.com.

For any affected securities or rated entities receiving direct credit support from the primary entity(ies) of this credit rating action, and whose ratings may change as a result of this credit rating action, the associated regulatory disclosures will be those of the guarantor entity. Exceptions to this approach exist for the following disclosures, if applicable to jurisdiction: Ancillary Services, Disclosure to rated entity, Disclosure from rated entity.

The ratings of rated entity Ageas SA/NV were not initiated or not maintained at the request of the rated entity.

Moody's considers a rated entity or its agent(s) to be participating when it maintains an overall relationship with Moody's. On this basis, Ageas SA/NV or their agents are considered to be non-participating entities. These rated entities or their agents generally do not provide Moody's with information for the purposes of their ratings process.

Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit rating and, if applicable, the related rating outlook or rating review.

Please see www.moodys.com for any updates on changes to the lead rating analyst and to the Moody's legal entity that has issued the rating.

Please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for additional regulatory disclosures for each credit rating.

Giovanni Meloni
Analyst
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

Antonello Aquino
Associate Managing Director
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 changes the outlook on Ageas SA/NV to positive. Issuer rating affirmed at Baa3
No Related Data.
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