July 17, 2017 / 11:32 AM / a month ago

Fitch Affirms Munich Re's IFS Rating at 'AA'; Outlook Stable

(The following statement was released by the rating agency) LONDON, July 17 (Fitch) Fitch Ratings has affirmed Munich Reinsurance Company's (Munich Re) Insurer Financial Strength (IFS) Rating at 'AA' (Very Strong) and Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'AA-'. Fitch has also affirmed the ratings of Munich Re's core operating subsidiaries. The Outlooks are Stable. A full list of rating actions is at the end of this commentary. KEY RATING DRIVERS The affirmation reflects the strength of Munich Re's franchise and the group's very strong business profile within the global reinsurance sector, a view that is supported by very strong capitalisation and consistent property and casualty (P&C) reinsurance results. A marginal offsetting factor is the mixed performance of the reinsurer's ERGO-branded primary insurance operations. Fitch regards Munich Re as having the scale, diversity and financial strength to attract the highest quality business being placed into the global reinsurance market. The reinsurance segment, of which the P&C business is the largest within the group, is strengthened by an excellent franchise. Munich Re's capitalisation, as measured by Fitch's Prism factor-based model (FBM), is 'Very Strong'. Its solvency margin under Solvency II remained well above the 220% top end of the reinsurer's target range at 267% at end-2016. Munich Re's very strong capitalisation enables the group to provide underwriting capacity on a continuous and large scale basis. In 2016 the P&C reinsurance segment contributed EUR2 billion (2015: EUR2.9 billion) towards the overall profit of EUR2.6 billion (2015: EUR3.1 billion) The Fitch-calculated combined ratio worsened to 96% (end-2015: 90%) as a result of larger aggregate losses from natural catastrophes. Normalised for reserve variations and major losses, the combined ratio further deteriorated to 99.7% (2015: 98.5%), reflecting the continued underlying effects of a protracted soft market. In June 2016, Munich Re's primary insurance group ERGO Group AG announced a restructuring programme, which will last until 2020. The restructuring will see ERGO update IT and reduce administration costs. The restructuring costs led to reduced profits in 2016 of EUR2.6 billion for the Munich Re group. However, Munich Re expects the steps taken to boost net profits at ERGO and anticipates the segment will contribute EUR600 million to the annual result by 2021 at the latest. Fitch recognises that the current operating environment remains challenging for Munich Re and the wider (re)insurance industry. Persistently low interest rates and increasingly intense competition, especially in non-life reinsurance, continue to drive price softening across certain major reinsurance classes. The agency expects Munich Re's diversified business profile and prudent underwriting policy to help the reinsurer to weather a protracted period of price softening. RATING SENSITIVITIES Key rating triggers that could result in a downgrade include a sustained material drop in the company's risk-adjusted capital position to below 'Very Strong', as measured by Prism FBM, a through-cycle Fitch-calculated combined ratio of 97% or above, or net income return on equity consistently below 6%. As Munich Re has the joint-highest IFS Rating among European (re)insurance groups an upgrade is unlikely in the near term. FULL LIST OF RATING ACTIONS Munich Reinsurance Company: IFS Rating: affirmed at 'AA'; Outlook Stable Long-Term IDR: affirmed at 'AA-'; Outlook Stable GBP300 million subordinated debt (XS0167260529): affirmed at 'A+' All other subordinated debt: affirmed at 'A' DKV Deutsche Krankenversicherung IFS Rating: affirmed at 'AA'; Outlook Stable ERGO Group AG Long-Term IDR: affirmed at 'AA-'; Outlook Stable Europaeische Reiseversicherung AG IFS Rating: affirmed at 'AA'; Outlook Stable Munich Reinsurance America Corporation Long-Term IDR: affirmed at 'AA-'; Outlook Stable Senior unsecured debt: affirmed at 'AA-' VORSORGE Lebensversicherung AG IFS Rating: affirmed at 'AA'; Outlook Stable Munich Reinsurance America, Inc. IFS Rating: affirmed at 'AA'; Outlook Stable Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company IFS Rating: affirmed at 'AA'; Outlook Stable ERV Foersaekringsaktiebolag (publ) IFS Rating: affirmed at 'A+'; Outlook Stable Europaeiske Rejseforsikring A/S IFS Rating: affirmed at 'A+'; Outlook Stable Contact: Primary Analyst Graham Coutts Director +44 20 3530 1211 Fitch Ratings Limited 30 North Colonnade London E14 5GN Secondary Analyst Harish Gohil Managing Director +44 20 3530 1257 Committee Chairperson Chris Waterman Managing Director +44 20 3530 1168 Media Relations: Athos Larkou, London, Tel: +44 203 530 1549, Email: athos.larkou@fitchratings.com. 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