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Rating Action:

Moody's downgrades Unipol ratings (IFSR to A2 from A1) following the release of 2009 results; negative outlook

29 Mar 2010

London, 29 March 2010 -- Moody's Investors Service today downgraded the insurance financial strength rating (IFSR) of UGF Assicurazioni S.p.A. ("Unipol"), the main insurance operating of the group, to A2 from A1 and its subordinated debt rating to Baa1 from A3. Moody's also downgraded the senior rating of Unipol Gruppo Finanziario S.p.A. ("UGF"), the holding company, to Baa2 from Baa1 and the long-term deposit rating of UGF Banca, the banking subsidiary, to Baa2 from Baa1. The outlook on these ratings remains negative. UGF Banca's P-2 short-term deposit rating and D+ BFSR (mapping to a Baseline Credit Assessment of Baa3 with negative outlook) are unaffected. A complete list of rating actions is listed below.

The ratings' action follows the release of 2009 financials and reflects the sharp deterioration in the group's insurance underwriting profitability and the continuous loss, albeit small, in the banking business. The group also announced a capital increase for a maximum of €500 million via a €400 million right issue and a warrant issue to be converted into shares in 2013 for a maximum value of €100 million.

For the year 2009, the group reported a bottom line consolidated loss of €769 million; the sizeable loss was the result of large impairments in the equity investment portfolio for €611 million as well as the abrupt worsening of the P&C underwriting result. The combined ratio increased to 108.0% in 2009 from 98.7% in 2008 principally as a result of a 9.7 percentage points worsening in the direct business loss ratio. This was mainly due to a deterioration in motor TPL, reflecting to some degree market-wide changes to pricing and tariffs in the Italian market - which contributed for an increase in the loss ratio by 6.8 percentage points. Moody's notes, more positively, that the management has taken some steps to readdress the deterioration of the P&C result and expects a reversal of this negative trend in 2010. The group has, inter alia, increased motor tariffs in 2009 and initiated restructuring initiatives including the closure of some of the least profitable agencies and portfolio pruning in the motor fleet and health lines. However, Moody's expects profitability to remain below levels seen historically.

The banking operations reported a loss of €16 million in 2009, driven by losses in UGF Merchant, the corporate bank, despite a comprehensive review of the loan portfolio in the previous year which resulted in a €112 million loss in 2008. The downgrade of the long term deposit rating of UGF Banca to Baa2 from Baa1 mirrors the one notch downgrade in UGF. The long term deposit ratings continues to benefit from a very high expectation of support from UGF. This gives one notch of uplift from the bank's Baa3 Baseline Credit Assessment, and any further downgrade to the parent's ratings could be expected to lead to a downgrade for the bank. The rating agency added that the negative outlook for the Baa3 BCA reflects the bank's deteriorating asset quality and loss in 2009, as a result of which the bank is becoming more weakly positioned within the D+ BFSR category.

The capital position of the group (FGD coverage) has slightly improved to 1.4x in 2009 from 1.3x in 2008 under Solvency I. Capitalisation was supported by a recovery in the value of the available for sales ("AFS") reserves and the issuance of €300 million Tier II by UGF Banca. The large equity impairments booked via the profit & loss in 2009 had a neutral impact on capital given that they were already part of AFS reserves. On March 25, 2010 the group announced a capital increase for a maximum of €500 million which would be submitted to the extraordinary shareholder's meeting in April 2010. The capital increase would allow the company to maintain an adequate capitalisation following the acquisition of Arca Vita S.p.A. for €274 million, which was announced at the end of last year and is pending regulatory approval. Finsoe S.p.A., UGF's majority shareholders, is understood to be willing to subscribe to its portion of equity rights, representing approximately 50% of ordinary shares, and the remaining part is underwritten by the Italian investment bank Mediobanca -- Banca di Credito Finanziario S.p.A..

The negative outlook on the Group's ratings reflects the possibility that the ratings could be lowered if earnings continue to remain depressed and the combined ratio does not improve towards 100% in 2010 and below in subsequent years. The ratings could also be lowered if there is a material deterioration of the group's market position, risk profile and capital structure that could compromise Unipol Group's fundamentals.

The following ratings were downgraded and carry a negative outlook:

UGF Assicurazioni S.p.A. -- insurance financial strength rating: to A2 from A1;

UGF Assicurazioni S.p.A. -- subordinated debt rating: to Baa1 from A3;

Unipol Gruppo Finanziario SpA -- senior rating to Baa2 from Baa1;

UGF Banca -- long-term deposits to Baa2 from Baa1.

The following ratings were affirmed and carry a stable outlook

UGF Banca -- short terms rating: Prime-2

UGF Banca -- D+ BFSR

The last rating action on Unipol was on 31 March 2009 when Moody's revised the outlook to negative from stable of the A1 insurance financial strength rating of UGF Assicurazioni S.p.A and of the Baa1 long-term deposit rating of UGF Banca.

Unipol Gruppo Finanziario S.p.A., based in Bologna, Italy, is the parent company of UGF Assicurazioni S.p.A. and UGF Banca. As of 30 December 2009, Unipol Gruppo Finanziario S.p.A. reported consolidated Net Premium Income of €7,420 million and Shareholders Equity at €3,826 million (€3,705 million as of year-end 2008).

The principal methodologies used in rating UGF and its subsidiaries are "Moody's Global Rating Methodology for Property and Casualty Insurers" published in July 2008, "Moody's Global Rating Methodology for Life Insurers", published in September 2006, "Bank Financial Strength Ratings: Global Methodology", published in February 2007 and "Incorporation of Joint-Default Analysis into Moody's Bank Ratings: A Refined Methodology", published in March 2007 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.

London
Antonello Aquino
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

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

Moody's downgrades Unipol ratings (IFSR to A2 from A1) following the release of 2009 results; negative outlook
No Related Data.
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