OCTOBER 09, 2020 10:06 AM (EDT)
AM Best Removes From Under Review With Negative Implications and Affirms Credit Ratings of Al Ittihad Al Watani
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LONDON - OCTOBER 09, 2020 10:06 AM (EDT)
The ratings reflect Al Ittihad’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best categorises as very strong, as well as its adequate operating performance, limited business profile and marginal enterprise risk management.
The removal of the under review with negative implications status reflects AM Best’s expectation that Al Ittihad’s credit fundamentals will remain largely insulated from the heightened economic, political and financial system risk of Lebanon, where the company is domiciled and holds some assets, given that the majority of its operations and investments are located in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Al Ittihad’s balance sheet strength is underpinned by risk-adjusted capitalisation comfortably at the strongest level, as measured by Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR), after adjustments made to reflect the heightened risks associated with Lebanese assets in the model. The balance sheet strength assessment also factors in the company’s highly liquid and conservative investments held in the UAE, which constitutes most of its investment portfolio.
Al Ittihad’s operating performance has improved significantly since 2017 as a result of actions implemented by management, which included putting the company’s Lebanese portfolio into run-off and focusing on its profitable operations in the UAE. AM Best expects prospective operating performance to remain adequate over the underwriting cycle, supported by continued profitability in the UAE and the successful management of the company’s run-off portfolios.
Al Ittihad’s business profile assessment reflects its market position as a midtier player in the highly competitive UAE market, as well as its solid distribution capabilities, leveraging the brokerage network of its parent, Nasco Insurance Group Limited (Nasco). Al Ittihad posted gross written premiums of LBP 107 billion (USD 70.6 million) in 2019 and has benefited from increased diversification by line of business since the transfer of established portfolios of Nasco distributed business in the UAE to the company in 2017.
Al Ittihad is strategically important to Nasco as an underwriting platform in the UAE, and continues to receive technical support from the group. As a result, capital extraction from Al Ittihad by its shareholders to a level that would weaken its balance sheet strength is considered unlikely, and no drag is assigned to the ratings, despite negative pressures on the creditworthiness of Nasco.
This press release relates to Credit Ratings that have been published on AM Best’s website. For all rating information relating to the release and pertinent disclosures, including details of the office responsible for issuing each of the individual ratings referenced in this release, please see AM Best’s Recent Rating Activity web page. For additional information regarding the use and limitations of Credit Rating opinions, please view Guide to Best’s Credit Ratings. For information on the proper media use of Best’s Credit Ratings and AM Best press releases, please view Guide for Media - Proper Use of Best’s Credit Ratings and AM Best Rating Action Press Releases.
AM Best is a global credit rating agency, news publisher and data analytics provider specializing in the insurance industry. Headquartered in the United States, the company does business in over 100 countries with regional offices in New York, London, Amsterdam, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Mexico City.