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Rating Action:

Moody's downgrades Coface's IFSRs to A2; stable outlook

08 Sep 2009

Paris, September 08, 2009 -- Moody's has today downgraded the long-term insurance financial strength ratings of Coface SA and Coface Kreditversicherung AG to A2 from Aa3. Moody's also assigned a stable outlook to these ratings. The rating actions conclude the review for possible downgrade initiated on July 29th. The short-term IFSR at Coface Kreditversicherung is affirmed at P-1

Moody's downgrade of Coface's ratings has been triggered by the recent announcement made by Coface's current shareholder, Natixis (an affiliated company of BPCE, the second largest domestic French retail banking group), that the credit insurance company did not provide sufficient synergies to be integrated into the banking group, and as a consequence Natixis would manage its stake in Coface as a financial investment.

Commenting on the revised ratings, Moody' said that they now largely reflect the stand-alone financial strength of the Coface Group. Coface's ratings previously strongly benefited from the ownership by Natixis (rated Aa3 long-term issuer rating and D for bank financial strength rating by Moody's). However, since Natixis has decided to manage Coface as a financial investment, the rating agency no longer factors into its ratings any long term expectations of business or implicit capital support.

Moody's added that the A2 insurance financial strength ratings benefit from the Group's strong position as the third largest credit insurance group in the world, a very good geographic diversification, and a relatively diversified level of income streams thanks to good positions in credit-related businesses, such as credit information and receivables management. The ratings also factor in Coface's strong risk management and risk monitoring tools which enable the Group to actively manage its risk exposure. However, these strengths are partly offset by a relatively low capitalisation and a high level of self-retention.

The stable outlook on the ratings reflects Moody's understanding that Coface will, despite the change in its role within Natixis, continue to receive some limited short-term capital support from its shareholder, in order to maintain Coface's current level of capitalisation despite operating losses reported in the last quarters. The stable outlook also reflects the strong measures that the Group has continuously taken since mid-2008, which Moody's expects to mitigate the negative impacts of the challenging economic environment on the Group's medium-term profitability.

Commenting on what could change Coface's ratings up going forward, Moody's pointed to substantial improvements in capitalisation. An improvement of the competitive position coupled with further economies of scale would also be beneficial. Conversely, negative rating pressure could develop in the event of deterioration in the long term profitability of the Group, or if Coface would be unable to maintain its current market position and its well diversified stream of earnings.

The following ratings were downgraded and assigned a stable outlook:

Coface SA -- insurance financial strength to A2 from Aa3;

Coface Kreditversicherung AG -- insurance financial strength to A2 from Aa3.

The following rating was affirmed

Coface Kreditversicherung AG -- short-term insurance financial strength at P-1

The last rating action on these issuers was on 29 July 2009, when Moody's placed the long-term insurance financial strength ratings of the Coface Group under review for possible downgrade.

Based in Paris, France, Coface SA is the third largest credit insurance group in the world. The Group reported a turnover of EUR1,536 million in 2008 and shareholders' equity (including minority interests) of EUR1,172 million as of year-end 2008.

The principal methodology used in rating Coface SA and Coface Kreditversicherung AG was "Rating Methodology: Credit Insurance", which can be found at 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 these issuers can also be found in the Rating Methodologies sub-directory on Moody's website.

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

Paris
Benjamin Serra
Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's France S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's downgrades Coface's IFSRs to A2; stable outlook
No Related Data.
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