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Rating Action:

Moody's upgrades Voya Financial (IFS to A2); stable outlook

03 Mar 2015

Approximately $3.5 billion of debt affected

New York, March 03, 2015 -- Moody's Investors Service has upgraded to A2 from A3 the insurance financial strength (IFS) rating of the life insurance subsidiaries of Voya Financial, Inc. (see complete ratings list, below). The long-term issuer rating of Voya Holdings, Inc. (Voya Holdings), an intermediate holding company, and the senior unsecured rating of the public holding company, Voya Financial, Inc. (Voya Financial; NYSE: VOYA), which is guaranteed by Voya Holdings, were each upgraded to Baa2 from Baa3. Other ratings were also upgraded (see complete ratings list, below). The outlook for all of Voya Financial's ratings that are not guaranteed by ING Groep N.V. (senior unsecured at A3, negative) are stable. Debt ratings guaranteed by ING Groep N.V. (VOYA's minority owner) were not affected by these rating actions.

RATINGS RATIONALE

Moody's said the rating upgrades were based on Voya's continuing improvement in its financial profile, particularly profitability and financial flexibility. "Voya Financial continues to make progress in increasing its profitability and debt service coverage metrics, as it focuses on re-pricing its core retirement businesses," said Vice President and Senior Credit Officer, Laura Bazer. This, together with a consolidated NAIC Risk- Based Capital ratio consistently over 425% (company action level) at year-end 2014 (537% actual) and healthy holding company liquidity drove the group's upgrade.

The rating agency said that growth in total statutory premiums and deposits is unlikely in the coming quarters, and net cash outflows of certain products (e.g., retirement plan products) will likely persist, as Voya continues shedding less profitable accounts, and as legacy blocks of business (e.g., fixed and variable annuities) run off. Voya's current profitability remains weak relative to its A2 IFS rating. However, Moody's expects these initiatives, together with Voya's strong pricing discipline, to result in on-going improvement to consolidated profitability consistent with rating expectations, supporting the company's stable rating outlook.

RATING DRIVERS

The following factors, together, could lead to an upgrade of VOYA's ratings: reduction in earnings volatility, resulting in return-on-capital (ROC) consistently close to 8%; Risk Based Capital (RBC) ratio consistently at or above 425% (company action level), while maintaining good capital adequacy at onshore captives; cash coverage of close to 5x, and earnings coverage of at least 7x, each on a consistent basis.

Conversely, the following factors could lead to a downgrade: Elevated surrenders leading to a permanent net reduction in premium and deposits; ROC's consistently below 5%; consolidated RBC ratio falling below 375% (company action level, excluding onshore captives, which, separately, must be adequately capitalized); cash coverage of less than 3x, earnings coverage of below 5x.

The following ratings were upgraded with a stable outlook:

Voya Retirement Insurance and Annuity Company: insurance financial strength to A2 from A3;

Voya Insurance and Annuity Company: insurance financial strength to A2 from A3;

Security Life of Denver Insurance Company: long-term insurance financial strength rating to A2 from A3; short-term insurance financial strength rating to Prime-1 from Prime-2;

Reliastar Life Insurance Company: insurance financial strength to A2 from A3;

Reliastar Life Insurance Company of New York: insurance financial strength to A2 from A3;

ING USA Global Funding Trust 3: funding agreement-backed senior secured debt to A2 from A3;

Equitable of Iowa Companies Capital Trust II: preferred stock rating (guaranteed on subordinated basis by Voya Holdings, Inc.) to Baa3(hyb) from Ba1(hyb);

Voya Holdings, Inc.: long-term issuer rating to Baa2 from Baa3;

VOYA Financial, Inc.: issuer rating (guaranteed by Voya Holdings) to Baa2 from Baa3; senior unsecured debt rating (guaranteed by Voya Holdings) to Baa2 from Baa3; junior subordinated debt rating (guaranteed by Voya Holdings) to Baa3(hyb) from Ba1(hyb).

VOYA Financial is a public company traded on the NYSE since May 1, 2013. It is minority owned (approximately 19% since November 18, 2014) by the ING Groep, N.V. At December 31, 2014, it had consolidated GAAP assets of almost $227 billion and shareholders' equity of approximately $19 billion.

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Global Life Insurers published in August 2014. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

Moody's insurance financial strength ratings are opinions of the ability of insurance companies to pay punctually senior policyholder claims and obligations.

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 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 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 rating action, and whose ratings may change as a result of this 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.

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.

Laura Bazer
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Robert L Riegel
MD - Insurance
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Moody's upgrades Voya Financial (IFS to A2); stable outlook
No Related Data.
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