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Best’s News & Research Service - December 20, 2023 08:45 AM (EST)

AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of Brighthouse Financial, Inc. and Its Subsidiaries

  • December 20, 2023 08:45 AM (EST)
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Oldwick //BestWire// - AM Best has affirmed the Financial Strength Rating (FSR) of A (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Ratings (Long-Term ICRs) of “a+” (Excellent) of Brighthouse Life Insurance Company (headquartered in Charlotte, NC), New England Life Insurance Company (Boston, MA) and Brighthouse Life Insurance Company of NY (New York, NY). These entities collectively are referred to as Brighthouse and are operating insurance subsidiaries of Brighthouse Financial, Inc. (Brighthouse Financial) (headquartered in Charlotte, NC) [NASDAQ: BHF]. The outlook of these Credit Ratings (rating) is stable.

Concurrently, AM Best has affirmed the Long-Term ICR of “bbb+” (Good) and the Long-Term Issue Credit Ratings (Long-Term IRs) of Brighthouse Financial. Additionally, AM Best has affirmed the Long-Term ICR of “bbb+” (Good) and the Long-Term IR of Brighthouse Holdings, LLC, Brighthouse Financial’s intermediate holding company. The outlook of these ratings is stable. (See below for a detailed listing of the Long-Term IRs.)

The ratings reflect Brighthouse’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best assesses as strong, as well as its strong operating performance, favorable business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management (ERM).

Brighthouse’s risk-adjusted capitalization has been assessed within the strong category, as measured by Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR). Statutory combined total adjusted capital reached $7.3 billion as of Sept. 30, 2023 – approximately a 10% decline from year-end 2022 – with an estimated NAIC combined risk-based capital ratio in the range of 400% to 420%. The year-to-date decline in capital is partially attributable to the impact of variable annuities due to market volatility and hedging losses associated with the sharp spike in interest rates along with strong new business growth. AM Best expects Brighthouse’s BCAR score to remain within the strong assessment category in the near term. Brighthouse’s balance sheet strength assessment is also indicative of its liquidity, financial flexibility and access to cash at the holding company. However, these factors are offset partly by Brighthouse’s use of captive solutions, primarily for its universal life with secondary guarantees (ULSG).

Brighthouse continues to report good earnings with annuity sales exceeding $11 billion as of year-end 2022, primarily due to sales of the shield level annuity products. Through September 2023, the company’s annuity sales reached roughly $8 billion. Earnings on a GAAP and statutory basis continue to reflect volatility as net income is impacted partially by derivatives used for hedging the company’s ULSG and variable annuity (VA) business, as well as the mark-to-market of its alternative investment portfolio. AM Best expects that Brighthouse will maintain overall favorable underlying core operating results as rising interest rates benefit spread compression within its legacy books of business with some continued volatility expected due to market impacts.

Brighthouse’s business profile assessment is indicative of its diverse product offerings, diverse distribution network and good geographic diversification, but also is reflective of its exposure to riskier product lines such as its ULSG and VA legacy business. Lastly, Brighthouse’s ERM program is appropriate for its risk profile.

The following Long-Term IRs have been affirmed with stable outlooks:

Brighthouse Financial, Inc.—

— “bbb+” (Good) on $1.5 billion 3.7% senior unsecured notes, due 2027 ($757 million remains outstanding)

— “bbb+” (Good) on $615 million 5.625% senior unsecured notes, due 2030

— “bbb+” (Good) on $1.5 billion 4.7% senior unsecured notes, due 2047 ($1.0 billion remains outstanding)

— “bbb+” (Good) on $400 million 3.85% senior unsecured notes, due 2051

— “bbb-” (Good) on $375 million 6.25% junior subordinated debentures, due 2058

— “bbb-” (Good) on $425 million 6.6% non-cumulative preferred stock, Series A

— “bbb-” (Good) on $402.5 million 6.75% non-cumulative preferred stock, Series B

— “bbb-” (Good) on $575 million 5.375% non-cumulative preferred stock, Series C

— “bbb-” (Good) on $350 million 4.625% non-cumulative preferred stock, Series D

Brighthouse Holdings, LLC—

— “bbb-” (Good) on $50 million fixed rate cumulative preferred units, Series A

The following Long-Term IR has been affirmed with a stable outlook:

Brighthouse Financial Institutional Funding I, LLC—

— “a+” (Excellent) program rating

The following indicative Long-Term IRs have been affirmed with stable outlooks:

Brighthouse Financial, Inc.—

— “bbb+” (Good) on senior unsecured debt

— “bbb” (Good) on subordinated debt

— “bbb-” (Good) on preferred stock

— “bbb-” (Good) on junior subordinated debt

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 specializing 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.

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