March 14, 2012 / 1:42 PM / 6 years ago

TEXT-S&P rates W.R. Berkley notes 'BBB+'

-- W. R. Berkley Corp. has announced the issuance of $325 million in 	
senior unsecured notes.	
     -- We expect the company to use net proceeds of the notes for general 	
corporate purposes and to prefund repayment of its $200 million outstanding 	
notes maturing in February 2013.	
     -- We are assigning a 'BBB+' debt rating to the notes.	
     -- We expect the company's credit profile to remain consistent with the 	
rating.	
	
March 14 - Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said today that it assigned its
'BBB+' senior unsecured debt rating to W. R. Berkley Corp.'s (NYSE:WRB;
BBB+/Stable/--) proposed issue of $325 million of 4.625% senior unsecured notes,
which are due in 2022.	
	
We expect WRB to use the net proceeds of the issue for general corporate 	
purposes and to prefund the repayment of its $200 million of outstanding 	
notes. This debt issue will result in an increase in financial leverage and a 	
decrease in fixed-charge coverage. However, excluding the debt earmarked for 	
the repayment of $200 million notes due in February 2013, WRB's credit 	
measures are consistent with rating expectations.	
	
The 'BBB+' counterparty credit rating on WRB and the 'A+' counterparty credit 	
and financial strength ratings on WRB's operating companies (collectively 	
referred to as Berkley) are unchanged. The outlook on all of these companies 	
remains stable.	
	
The ratings reflect Berkley's strong operating performance; strong, 	
well-diversified competitive position; and strong liquidity. Offsetting these 	
strengths are WRB's somewhat aggressive financial leverage and 	
operating-company capital levels that, though currently supportive of the 	
rating, have at times fallen below what we expect for the rating level as the 	
company pursued growth opportunities.	
	
We expect WRB's capital-adequacy ratio to remain supportive of the rating, 	
with holding-company debt leverage remaining less than 35%. Although we expect 	
challenging market conditions to hinder WRB's top- and bottom-line operating 	
performance somewhat, it should remain favorable relative to the industry.	
	
RATINGS LIST	
W.R. Berkley Corp.	
 Counterparty Credit Rating           BBB+/Stable/--	
 	
New Rating	
 W.R. Berkley Corp.	
  $325 million notes due 2022	
   Senior Unsecured Debt Rating       BBB+

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