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Announcement:

Moody's places Unipol Group's ratings on review for downgrade

02 Feb 2012

London, 02 February 2012 -- Moody's Investors Service today placed on review for possible downgrade the insurance and banking ratings of Unipol Gruppo Finanziario SpA (UGF). Specifically the A2 IFSR of Unipol Assicurazioni SpA (Unipol), the largest insurance operation of the group, the Baa2/Prime-2 bank deposit ratings and the D+ standalone bank financial strength rating (BFSR) of Unipol Banca, the banking operation of the group, and the Baa2 senior rating of UGF, the holding of the group, were placed on review for possible downgrade (see complete rating list below).

RATINGS RATIONALE

The review follows the announcement on January 29 that UGF has reached an agreement with Premafin SpA, the holding company of Fondiaria Sai SpA, to pursue an integration project with Premafin SpA, Fondiaria Sai SpA and Milano Assicurazioni SpA (all unrated). As a part of the agreement, Premafin is expected to increase the share capital reserved to UGF by a maximum of €400m; as a result of this reserved capital increase, UGF will obtain the control of Premafin which in turns owns 36% of Fondiaria Sai ordinary shares. UGF is expected to finance the transaction via a capital increase of €1.1billion which is expected to be executed by May 2012.

The transaction is significant relative to UGF's size, given that Fondiaria Sai is the second largest insurance player in Italy with reported consolidated gross written premiums (GWP) of €13 billion in 2010. The review for possible downgrade will focus on possible changes in the risk profile of UGF as a consequence of the acquisition. The review will focus on the following:

- Capital strength of the enlarged group. The capitalization of the new group will be dependent on the successful execution of two capital raisings (a maximum of €1.1 billion raised by Fondiaria Sai and a maximum of €1.1 billion raised by UGF). The overall amount is significant in respective of the current capitalization of the two groups

- Quality of the overall investment portfolio of the enlarged group. We will review how the high exposure of Fondiaria Sai to high risk assets, namely property and equities, which accounted for more than 20% of total investments at year-end 2010, will affect the asset quality of the overall group

- The financial leverage of the enlarged group. Fondiaria Sai had outstanding debt of over €1.0bn at the end of September 2011

- Quality of the reserves of Fondiaria Sai. We will review the potential risk of further reserve deficiencies at Fondiaria Sai given its history of reserve deficiencies. The company recently announced an overall €790m reserves strengthening for 2011

- The execution risk of integrating multiple large insurance operations. The integration will demand considerable management time and will require significant effort in securing operational efficiency

More positively, the transaction would provide scale and strengthen the market position of Unipol, as the new group would be the pro-forma number one player in the Italian P&C market.

With regard to Unipol Banca Moody's said that the review of the BFSR will focus on the extent to which the bank's business and financial fundamentals, particularly in the current difficult operating environment in Italy, are now compatible with a lower rating level. For the bank's deposit ratings, which are also being placed on review, Moody's said that this reflects both the review on the BFSR, and the potential impact of the review on its parent, given that Unipol Banca's deposit ratings currently incorporate one notch of uplift from parental support.

The transaction is still subject to regulatory and antitrust approval and to Consob's exception in relation to the requirement of launching a tender offer on all the remaining shares of Premafin, Fondiaria Sai and Milano Assicurazioni.

Unipol Gruppo Finanziario S.p.A., based in Bologna, Italy, is the parent company of Unipol Assicurazioni S.p.A. and Unipol Banca. As of 30 December 2010, Unipol Gruppo Finanziario S.p.A. reported consolidated net profit of €71 million and Shareholders' Equity of €4,021 million (€3,826 million as of year-end 2009).

The following ratings were placed on review for possible downgrade:

Unipol Assicurazioni S.p.A. -- insurance financial strength rating A2;

Unipol Assicurazioni S.p.A. -- subordinated debt rating: Baa1;

Unipol Gruppo Finanziario SpA -- senior rating: Baa2;

Unipol Banca -- deposit ratings: Baa2/Prime-2;

Unipol Banca -- BFSR: D+

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATINGS UP/DOWN

Unipol Assicurazioni

An upgrade on the IFSR is unlikely at the moment given the review for downgrade

A downgrade of the IFSR could be principally related to

- A further downgrade of Italy's sovereign rating (A2, negative)

- Material deterioration of the group's risk profile and capitalization as a result of the merger with Fondiaria Sai

- Group's financial leverage rising over 35%, and fixed-charge coverage remaining below 4x for more than 18 months

Unipol Banca

An upgrade on the BFSR or the deposit ratings is unlikely at the moment given the review for downgrade on the bank's BFSR and on the group's ratings.

A downgrade of the BFSR could be principally triggered by a failure prevent further deterioration in the bank's asset quality, or a failure to restore the bank to profitability in the near term. Given the weak operating environment at present, achieving this may prove challenging, as reflected by the current negative outlook on the bank's standalone.

A downgrade of the long-term local currency deposit rating could be triggered by a downgrade of the bank's standalone BFSR, and by a downgrade of the insurance financial strength ratings of the Unipol group's operating insurance companies, which is currently under review for downgrade.

METHODOLOGY USED

The methodologies used in rating Unipol Gruppo Finanziario SpA were Moody's Global Rating Methodology for Life Insurers published in May 2010, Moody's Global Rating Methodology for Property and Casualty Insurers published in May 2010 and Moody's Guidelines for Rating Bank Hybrid Securities and Subordinated Debt published in November 2009. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for copies of these methodologies.

The methodologies used in rating Unipol Banca were 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. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for copies of these methodologies.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides relevant 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 relevant regulatory disclosures in relation to the rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider's credit rating. For provisional ratings, this announcement provides relevant 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.

The ratings have been disclosed to the rated entities or its designated agent(s) and issued with no amendment resulting from that disclosure.

Information sources used to prepare each of the following rating are : parties involved in the ratings, public information, and confidential and proprietary Moody's Investors Service information.

Moody's considers the quality of information available on the rated entity, obligation or credit satisfactory for the purposes of issuing this review.

Moody's adopts all necessary measures so that the information it uses in assigning a rating is of sufficient quality and from sources 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.

Moody's Investors Service may have provided Ancillary or Other Permissible Service(s) to the rated entity or its related third parties within the two years preceding the credit rating action. Please see the special report "Ancillary or other permissible services provided to entities rated by MIS's EU credit rating agencies" on the ratings disclosure page on our website www.moodys.com for further information.

Please see the ratings disclosure page on www.moodys.com for general disclosure on potential conflicts of interests.

Please see the ratings disclosure page on www.moodys.com for information on (A) MCO's major shareholders (above 5%) and for (B) further information regarding certain affiliations that may exist between directors of MCO and rated entities as well as (C) the names of entities that hold ratings from MIS that have also publicly reported to the SEC an ownership interest in MCO of more than 5%. A member of the board of directors of this rated entity may also be a member of the board of directors of a shareholder of Moody's Corporation; however, Moody's has not independently verified this matter.

Please see Moody's Rating Symbols and Definitions on the Rating Process page on www.moodys.com for further information on the meaning of each rating category and the definition of default and recovery.

Please see ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for the last rating action and the rating history. The date on which some ratings were first released goes back to a time before Moody's ratings were fully digitized and accurate data may not be available. Consequently, Moody's provides a date that it believes is the most reliable and accurate based on the information that is available to it. Please see the ratings disclosure page on our website www.moodys.com for further information.

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.

In addition to the information provided below please find on the ratings tab of the issuer page at www.moodys.com, for each of the ratings covered, Moody's disclosures on the lead rating analyst and the Moody's legal entity that has issued each of the ratings.

Antonello Aquino
Senior Vice President
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

Simon Harris
MD - Financial Institutions
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 places Unipol Group's ratings on review for downgrade
No Related Data.
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