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Global Credit Research - 07 Oct 2010
London, 07 October 2010 -- Moody's Investors Service downgraded the Insurance Financial Strength
Rating (IFSR) for AXA Sun Life plc and Sun Life Assurance Society plc
(collectively "AXA UK Life") to A2 from A1. These actions conclude
the review for possible downgrade initiated on June 24, 2010.
These ratings now carry a stable outlook. In the same rating action
Moody's affirmed the A3 IFSR for Friends Provident Life & Pensions
Ltd (FPLP) and the Baa3 subordinated debt of Friends Provident Group plc
("Friends Provident") with a positive outlook.
The following ratings were downgraded with a stable outlook:
AXA Sun Life plc - insurance financial strength rating to A2 from
Sun Life Assurance Society plc - insurance financial strength rating
to A2 from A1
The following ratings were affirmed with a positive outlook:
Friends Provident Life & Pensions Ltd- insurance financial
strength rating A3
Friends Provident Group plc- junior subordinated debt (guaranteed)
Moody's said that the downgrade of AXA UK Life's ratings follows
the completion of the change of control of the part of the AXA UK businesses
sold to Resolution Ltd. The previous A1 rating reflected the stand-alone
rating for the entire business of AXA in the UK. Conversely,
the revised A2 rating reflects Moody's view of the enlarged combined
operation of Friends Provident and the part of the AXA UK Life business
sold to Resolution, which corresponds to c. 60% of
AXA UK Life's new business volumes in terms of APE.
We view the market position of the combined group, to be renamed
as Friends Life in the first part of 2011, as improving considerably
relative to FPLP's historic position, particularly in the life,
pension and protection lines. The group expects to realize significant
cost synergies, principally from rationalisation in the areas of
sales and marketing and support costs, and we expect overall cash
generation to improve, especially in the AXA UK Life business.
In addition, we expect the group's capital position to be
and remain at a good level, as a result of Resolution's best
endeavours to satisfy the regulatory conditions relating to the quality
and quantity of capital. More negatively, the underlying
performance of the UK life business remains one of the weaknesses for
the group given the low new business margins in particular for the group
pension product, one of the major lines sold by the group.
Moody's will also continue to monitor Resolution's future
acquisition activity, in particular the extent to which any franchise-enhancing
acquisitions for Friends Life are offset by any associated financing strains
on the Friends Life group as a whole, in terms of capitalisation,
leverage and fixed charge coverage.
The affirmation of the A3 IFSR for FPLP with a positive outlook continues
to reflect the potentially beneficial impacts of the transaction in terms
of franchise and scale for the Friends Provident Life & Pensions legal
entity, as well as the potential for FPLP's ratings to reflect the
Group's aggregate rating profile over time. Moody's said
that it would evaluate the group's intentions with respect to managing
FPLP as part of the enlarged group, notably the capital management
policy and role of this subsidiary within the group. Positive rating
pressure could emerge in the event that FPLP continues to benefit from
its historically strong capital position and well-managed risk
The last rating action on FPLP was on 24 June 2010, when Moody's
affirmed the A3 IFSR and the Baa3 subordinated debt rating of Friends
Provident.The last rating action on AXA UK Life was on 24 June
2010, when Moody's downgraded the IFSR for AXA UK Life to A1 from
The principal methodology used in rating AXA UK Life and FPLP was Moody's
Global Rating Methodology for Life Insurers published in May 2010 rating
methodology. Other methodologies and factors that may have been
considered in the process of rating this issuer can also be found on Moody's
Friends Provident Group plc, headquartered in London, United
Kingdom, had total assets of GBP60bn at year-end 2009 under
IFRS. AXA Sun Life plc had total assets of GBP45bn at year-end
2009 under UK GAAP.
Information sources used to prepare the credit rating are the following:
parties involved in the ratings, public information, confidential
and proprietary Moody's Investors Service's information.
Moody's Investors Service considers the quality of information available
on the issuer or obligation satisfactory for the purposes of maintaining
a credit rating.
The rating has been disclosed to the rated entity or its designated agents
and issued with no amendment resulting from that disclosure.
Moody's Investors Service may have provided Ancillary or Other Permissible
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MOODY'S considers to be reliable including, when appropriate,
independent third-party sources. However, MOODY'S
is not an auditor and cannot in every instance independently verify or
validate information received in the rating process.
Please see ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on Moodys.com
for the last rating action and the rating history.
The date on which some Credit Ratings were first released goes back to
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VP - Senior Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454
MD - Financial Institutions
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
Moody's downgrades AXA UK life operations by one notch (IFSR to A2) with a stable outlook.
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