Best’s News & Research Service - December 15, 2022 09:06 AM (EST)
AM Best Removes From Under Review With Positive Implications and Upgrades Credit Ratings of Partners Life Limited
- December 15, 2022 09:06 AM (EST)
Singapore //BestWire// - AM Best has removed from under review with positive implications and upgraded the Financial Strength Rating to A (Excellent) from A- (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating to “a” (Excellent) from “a-” (Excellent) of Partners Life Limited (Partners Life) (New Zealand). The outlook assigned to these Credit Ratings (ratings) is stable.
These rating actions follow the acquisition of Partners Group Holdings Limited (PGHL), Partners Life’s parent, by Dai-ichi Life Holdings, Inc. (Dai-ichi group) [TSE: 8750] on 30 November 2022. This follows a previous announcement on 12 August 2022 that Dai-ichi group had entered into an agreement to buy 100% of PGHL’s shares for approximately NZD 1 billion.
The ratings reflect Partners Life’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best assesses as very strong, as well as its adequate operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management.
The rating upgrades factor in rating enhancement from Dai-ichi group following its acquisition of Partners Life. This reflects integration with and ownership by the Dai-ichi group, one of Japan’s largest life insurers. In addition, AM Best expects Dai-ichi group to provide capital support to Partners Life in the event that the company is unable to maintain an appropriate level of capital adequacy. While Partners Life accounts for a small component of Dai-ichi group’s overall revenues and earnings, the acquisition grows the group’s presence notably in New Zealand.
Partners Life’s balance sheet strength assessment is underpinned by its risk-adjusted capitalisation, which is expected to remain at the strongest level over the medium term, as measured by Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR). A partially offsetting balance sheet strength factor is the company’s reliance on third-party reinsurance for risk transfer and upfront commission financing.
The company has a track record of adequate operating performance, with a five-year average return-on-equity ratio of 7.3% (fiscal-years 2018-2022). Notwithstanding this, reported operating earnings remain sensitive to discount rate movements in New Zealand, which have driven a reduction in underwriting profits in recent periods. Prospectively, controlled underwriting growth and robust pricing strategies are expected to help maintain the company’s adequate operating performance.
Partners Life’s business profile assessment reflects its prominent position in New Zealand’s life insurance industry, with a diversified product range including term life, disability income, trauma, total permanent disability and medical insurance. The company’s market share has increased following its recent acquisition of BNZ Life Insurance Limited (BNZ Life). Partners Life distributes its insurance policies predominantly through a large network of independent financial advisers in New Zealand. However, as part of the BNZ Life acquisition, the company has also established an exclusive 10-year agreement for the referral of Bank of New Zealand customers with life insurance needs to Partners Life.
Ratings are communicated to rated entities prior to publication. Unless stated otherwise, the ratings were not amended subsequent to that communication.
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 use of Best’s Credit Ratings, Best’s Performance Assessments, Best’s Preliminary Credit Assessments and AM Best press releases, please view Guide to Proper Use of Best’s Ratings & Assessments.
AM Best is a global credit rating agency, news publisher and data analytics provider specialising in the insurance industry. Headquartered in the United States, the company does business in over 100 countries with regional offices in London, Amsterdam, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Mexico City.