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NOVEMBER 27, 2017 01:33 PM (EST)

A.M. Best Places Credit Ratings of Sirius International Group, Ltd. and Its Main Subs. Under Review With Negative Implications


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 Charlotte Vigier
Senior Financial Analyst
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Ghislain Le Cam, CFA, FRM
Director, Analytics
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LONDON - NOVEMBER 27, 2017 01:33 PM (EST)
A.M. Best has placed under review with negative implications the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating (Long-Term ICR) of “bbb” of Sirius International Group, Ltd. (SIG) (Bermuda). Additionally, A.M. Best has placed under review with negative implications the Financial Strength Ratings of A (Excellent) and the Long-Term ICRs of “a” of SIG’s main subsidiaries: Sirius Bermuda Insurance Company Ltd. (Bermuda), Sirius International Insurance Corporation (publ) (Sweden), and Sirius America Insurance Company (New York, NY).

These Credit Rating (rating) actions follow the announcement on Nov. 27, 2017, that SIG’s parent, Sirius International Insurance Group, Ltd. (SIIG), is exercising its call option to acquire all of Delek Group Ltd.’s (Delek Group) remaining holdings (47.35%) in The Phoenix Holdings Ltd. (The Phoenix), a leading insurance group in Israel that writes life and non-life business, for a cash sum of NIS 2.3 billion (approximately USD 653 million). The transaction will provide SIIG with a controlling stake (52.25%) of The Phoenix, complementing the acquisition made in September this year of an initial 4.9% of shares for NIS 208 million (approximately USD 59 million) in cash. The acquisition is expected to close in the first half of 2018 and remains subject regulatory approvals.

The under review status with negative implications reflects concerns that the acquisition carries execution risk stemming from the size of the group being acquired, and changes SIIG’s strategic direction, as The Phoenix is specialised in primary business with significant life insurance and asset management activities. Whilst The Phoenix has a track record of solid operating performance, the successful integration of its activities will depend on SIIG’s ability to retain key management. The under review status with negative implications also reflects the potential pressure the transaction could put on SIIG’s balance sheet strength, should it fail to finance the acquisition as planned, with the use of own funds complemented by equity capital raised from new investors (with a back-stop from SIIG’s parent, CM Bermuda Ltd.). Whilst SIIG’s risk-adjusted capitalisation is not expected to deteriorate significantly provided the additional equity is raised, financial leverage is likely to increase as a result of the transaction.

The ratings will remain under review until the sale is completed, and A.M. Best has assessed the impact of the closing terms on SIIG and the rating fundamentals of its rated subsidiaries.

This press release relates to Credit Ratings that have been published on A.M. 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 A.M. Best’s Recent Rating Activity web page. For additional information regarding the use and limitations of Credit Rating opinions, please view Understanding Best’s Credit Ratings. For information on the proper media use of Best’s Credit Ratings and A.M. Best press releases, please view Guide for Media - Proper Use of Best’s Credit Ratings and A.M. Best Rating Action Press Releases.

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