AMSTERDAM, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Dutch life insurer Vivat expects to receive a planned 1.35 billion euro ($1.5 billion) cash injection from its Chinese parent Anbang this week, it said on Tuesday.
The news came a day after Standard & Poor’s said it was considering cutting its credit rating on Vivat to below investment grade, due in part to its concerns about Anbang’s creditworthiness.
The latest turbulence around Vivat comes after the Dutch state in June cut the sale price for the nationalised insurer to a nominal 1 euro, and the abrupt resignation of CEO Gerard van Ophen shortly after Anbang closed the acquisition in July.
In a note published Monday evening, S&P said that after discussions with Vivat’s management, it believed Anbang was now setting Vivat’s strategy and running its operations, and as such it should be treated as a subsidiary of the Chinese firm for rating purposes.
“Our initial analysis suggests that the Anbang group’s overall level of creditworthiness may be weaker than that of the Vivat group,” the note said, citing Anbang’s rapid growth and a lack of transparency.
“As such, based on our criteria, we are likely to consider our assessment of Anbang’s creditworthiness as a constraint to our rating on Vivat.”
S&P said it may downgrade Vivat’s BBB- rating by “more than one notch.”
Company spokeswoman Elvira Bos said Vivat and Anbang would seek to supply S&P with more information about Anbang.
“We’re taking that up now,” she said.
Separately, Vivat “expects the capital injection this week, as planned,” she said.
Anbang initially agreed to buy Vivat, the former insurance arm of nationalized Dutch bank and insurer SNS Reaal NV, in February for 150 million euros, plus a capital injection of up to a billion euros.
In June, the purchase price was revised downward to 1 euro and the injection was increased to 1.35 billion. Dutch regulators had insisted on a larger recapitalisation in preparation for Europe’s new Solvency II regime.
Tough Solvency II capital requirements from Dutch regulators also hit the stock price of Vivat’s stock-market listed rivals Delta Lloyd and Aegon over the summer.
Anbang’s takeover of Vivat closed on July 26, with the cash injection due no later than Oct. 24. As of Tuesday Oct. 20, it had not been carried out.
Vivat CEO Van Olphen resigned unexpectedly “in the interest of the company” on Sept. 14, just two weeks after the deal closed. Dutch media have reported that his departure was due to strategic differences with Anbang managers.
Bos could not confirm that.
$1 = 0.8816 euros Editing by Mark Potter