March 14, 2012 / 8:38 PM / in 6 years

TEXT-Fitch rates WR Berkley's senior otes 'BBB+'

March 14 - Fitch Ratings has assigned a 'BBB+' rating to W.R. Berkley
Corporation's (Berkley) $350 million senior unsecured debt issuance due 2022.
The rating is equivalent to Fitch's ratings on Berkley's existing senior
unsecured notes.	
	
On Feb. 7, 2012, Fitch affirmed all of its ratings for Berkley with a Stable
Outlook.	
	
Fitch expects the company to use the debt issuance proceeds for general
corporate purposes, including refinancing $200 million of senior unsecured debt
that matures in February 2013.	
	
Berkley's pro forma debt-to-total capital ratio of 34% will be above peer
averages immediately following the transaction closing; however, following the
anticipated $200 million debt refinancing, the ratio will reduce to 32% which
conservatively assumes no growth in equity and no other debt repayment. Fitch
notes that pro forma financial leverage is within its expectations.	
	
The company's debt-to-total capital ratio was 30% as of Dec. 31, 2011, down from
32% at year-end 2010, due to growth in shareholders' equity. Fitch expects
run-rate leverage to remain near 30% and earnings-based interest coverage to
remain in the mid-upper single digits.	
	
Fitch has assigned the following rating:	
	
W.R. Berkley Corporation	
--$350 million 4.625% senior debt due 2022 'BBB+'.	
	
Additional information is available at 'www.fitchratings.com'. The ratings above
were unsolicited and have been provided by Fitch as a service to investors. The
issuer did not participate in the rating process, or provide additional
information, beyond the issuer's available public disclosure.	
	
Applicable Criteria & Related Research:	
--'Insurance Rating Methodology' (Sept. 22, 2011).	
	
Applicable Criteria and Related Research:	
Insurance Rating Methodology

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