Nationale Borg Group

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1 Primary Credit Analyst: Peter McClean, London (44) ; Secondary Contact: Marco Sindaco, London (44) ; Table Of Contents Rationale Outlook Base-Case Scenario Company Description Business Risk Profile Financial Risk Profile Other Assessments Accounting Considerations Related Criteria And Research JANUARY 22, 215 1

2 SACP* Assessments SACP* Support Ratings Anchor a- + Modifiers = a- + = Financial Strength Rating Business Risk Satisfactory ERM and Management Liquidity Group Support A-/Stable/-- Financial Risk Strong Holistic Analysis Sovereign Risk Gov't Support *Stand-alone credit profile. See Ratings Detail for a complete list of rated entities and ratings covered by this report. Rationale Business Risk Profile: Satisfactory Nationale Borg-Maatschappij N.V. (NB) is a long-standing provider of reinsurance capacity to the global trade credit and surety markets and has a niche position in the Dutch and Belgian surety markets. Operating performance compares well historically with larger peers and has benefited from a benign claims environment in 214. The company's global trade credit business is highly sensitive to shifts in global economies, which are only slowly recovering. Financial Risk Profile: Strong Capital adequacy is a key strength for the rating and we would not expect to see it weakened by distributions to shareholders. The small absolute size of capital leaves the company more exposed to volatility in its underwriting and investments. There is some concentration risk--through bank deposits and fixed-income investments--to the financial services sector. Other Factors We consider NB's subsidiary, Curaçao-based credit and surety reinsurer Nationale Borg Reinsurance N.V., to be core to the NB group. JANUARY 22, 215 2

3 Outlook: Stable The stable outlook on NB reflects Standard & Poor's Ratings Services' view that the company's capital adequacy provides a substantial buffer against a slowly recovering economic environment for its key lines of business. This applies particularly to its inward reinsurance portfolio, for which NB retains the risks entirely on its balance sheet. Consequently, we expect NB to maintain extremely strong capital adequacy. Downside scenario We might lower the ratings on Nationale Borg if, contrary to our expectations: Capital adequacy deteriorates below the 'AAA' rating category for a prolonged period. This could result from an unexpectedly high return of capital to shareholders or a sharp increase in the frequency of claims in the inward reinsurance book; or Earnings weaken to substantially below our base-case assumptions, preventing the company from sustaining capital capable of supporting the 'A-' rating during the next two years. Upside scenario We do not currently see potential for a positive rating action. Base-Case Scenario Macroeconomic Assumptions In our view, our expectation of a gradual recovery of economic growth in 214 is positive for trade credit insurers. Global trade credit insurers could be negatively affected if a global economic recovery fails to materialize. Higher growth in emerging economies than developed markets, which we forecast for , will likely lead to a gradual rise in exposure to emerging markets (see table 1 below). Company-Specific Assumptions Although we anticipate a return of capital to shareholders, we still expect capital adequacy to remain extremely strong. We expect gross premium to decline by about 5% in 214, mainly due to soft market conditions in the inwards reinsurance business, accompanied by stable volumes in the Dutch surety business. For 215, we expect premium growth of around 5% in both major business areas. The combined (loss and expense) ratio to improve to below 8% in 214, mainly reflecting an abnormally benign claims experience across all parts of the business. We expect the ratio to return closer to the five-year average of about 9% in Net income of around 16 million in 214, reverting to the historical average of about 1 million in JANUARY 22, 215 3

4 Key Metrics Table 1 215F 214F Gross premiums written (Mil. ) Net income (Mil. ) Return on shareholders' equity (%) P/C net combined ratio (%) Net investment yield (%) (1.) S&P capital adequacy Extremely strong Extremely strong Extremely strong Extremely strong Strong F--Forecast. P/C--Property/casualty. Company Description Founded in 1893 and based in Amsterdam, NB writes direct surety insurance in the Dutch and Belgian markets and, through Curaçao-based subsidiary Nationale Borg Reinsurance (NBRe), credit and surety reinsurance internationally. Egeria Capital B.V. and HAL Investments B.V. acquired NB from ING Groep N.V. in July 27. NB posted gross premiums written (GPW) of 92.9 million in 213, virtually unchanged from the 93.6 million recorded in 212. The group's 213 GPW comprised 74% (212: 71%) of assumed reinsurance, with the remaining 26% consisting of commercial guarantees and purchase guarantees for private individuals. Nieuwegein-based Nationale Waarborg B.V., which NB acquired in September 28, underwrites the group's purchase guarantee business. Nationale Borg Reinsurance (NBRe) underwrites the group's inward reinsurance business. This was previously written by the parent, which continues to underwrite the group's direct surety business. Business Risk Profile: Satisfactory We regard NB's business risk profile as satisfactory, reflecting its position as a long-standing provider of reinsurance capacity to the global trade credit and surety markets and its niche position in the Dutch and Belgian surety markets. However, this specialization, together with the high sensitivity of global trade credit business to shifts in global economies, constrains our overall view of NB's business risk. We believe pricing discipline at the major trade credit insurers has improved since the 28 global financial crisis. We therefore would not expect to change our assessment of intermediate industry and country risk over Insurance industry and country risk: Intermediate We believe NB faces intermediate industry and country risk. For the purposes of our analysis, we assume that, notwithstanding the presence of its Dutch and Belgian surety business and in terms of risk exposure, NB has greater similarities to the global trade credit sector. We view country risk for this sector as low because exposures are globally diversified and strongly weighted in wealthy and stable mature markets. Our intermediate assessment of industry risk reflects our view of five industry-related factors. We see profitability (measured by the combined ratio and return on JANUARY 22, 215 4

5 equity), market growth prospects, and the institutional framework as neutral, product risk as negative, and barriers to entry as positive. A reassessment of industry risk would arise from potential changes in our view of the sector's profitability and growth prospects. Table 2 Industry And Country Risk Insurance sector IICRA Business mix (%) Global trade credit Intermediate 1 IICRA--Insurance Industry Country Risk Assessment. Competitive position: Adequate We consider that NB has an adequate competitive position. In our view, NB's proven expertise in the Dutch and Belgian surety markets, in which we believe the group has built a strong reputation as a result of its tailored products, underpins its competitive position. We also believe that NB has established a good position as a reputable provider of credit and surety reinsurance capacity. This has enabled NB to diversify its revenue sources, both by business line and through the geographical spread of the cedants' portfolios. However, notwithstanding this relative diversification, NB's specialization as a surety insurer and credit and surety reinsurer constrains our view of its competitive position. Table 3 Nationale Borg-Maatschappij N.V. Competitive Position --Year ended Dec (Mil. ) Gross premiums written Change in gross premiums written (%) (.8) Net premiums written Change in net premiums written (%) Reinsurance utilization (%) Business segment (% of GPW) Surety Reinsurance Surety insurance business NB's expertise, particularly in the midsize enterprise market, has translated into a defendable and stable market share of 1% in the Dutch and Belgian guarantee market in recent years, defining NB as the largest nonbank player. The group's main competitors are the national banks, which hold a market share of about 85% in the Netherlands and Belgium, according to the group's estimate. In our opinion, the group has benefited from a low level of competition from other insurers in these two markets. Its nonbank competitors are Euler Hermes Interborg and Ducroire Delcredere. Given the nature of the surety business, diversification of exposures is difficult to achieve by sector. Consequently, the construction, transport, logistics, and capital goods manufacturers industries represented a high 67% of surety premium income in 213. The remaining exposure relates to custom bonds and the food and beverage sector. We view positively NB's continuing scaling back of surety exposures in the light of weakening economic conditions, notably in the Netherlands construction sector. Primarily for this reason, we expect premium growth for the surety business to be stable or marginally negative in 214, with an improvement in economic conditions in the JANUARY 22, 215 5

6 Netherlands leading to an increase in GPW of around 5% in 215. Credit and surety reinsurance business NB's reinsurance business is the largest contributor to the group's premium income with GPW of 68 million at year-end 213, representing some 74% of the total. The group views its exposure to international credit and surety markets as providing a stable and more diversified spread of risk than the more-concentrated risks in its guarantee business. This exposure also supports the guarantee business by providing market intelligence. Nevertheless, NB continues to be a follower player in this market as it has only a limited presence in reinsurance treaties and is not able to influence pricing. The soft market conditions in the sector have contributed to a 5% fall in NB's reinsurance business as of the third quarter of 214, stemming the previously increasing weight of this portfolio as a proportion of the total. We expect to see a slight recovery of around 5% in premium growth in 215. Financial Risk Profile: Strong We regard NB's financial risk profile as strong, particularly reflecting its extremely strong capital adequacy and good profitability. However, the small absolute size of capital leaves the company more exposed to earnings volatility, while there is some concentration risk to the financial services sector. Capital and earnings: Strong NB's capital position is a key strength for the rating. We regard capital and earnings as strong, and our base-case scenario assumes that this will remain the case. We expect that the company's good earnings and conscious policy of managing exposures will sustain its extremely strong capital adequacy, but that NB will continue to return capital to its shareholders. However, the group is more exposed to volatility of underwriting and investments because of the small absolute size of its capital. Table 4 Nationale Borg-Maatschappij N.V. Capital --Year ended Dec (Mil. ) Total capital (reported) Change in total capital (reported) (%) (.4) (1.3) 5.6 S&P capital adequacy Extremely strong Extremely strong Strong Very strong Very strong We assume in our base-case scenario a post-tax operating profit of over 16 million in 214, when we expect the combined ratio to improve significantly to below 8%, mainly reflecting an abnormally benign claims experience across all parts of the business. We expect the ratio to return closer to the five-year average of about 9% in , with post-tax operating profit of about 1 million per year. We expect that inward reinsurance will continue to be the major contributor to earnings, despite the soft reinsurance market conditions. JANUARY 22, 215 6

7 Table 5 Nationale Borg-Maatschappij N.V. Earnings --Year ended Dec (Mil. ) Total revenues EBIT adjusted Net income Return on shareholders' equity (reported) (%) P/C: Net expense ratio (%) P/C: Net loss ratio (%) P/C: Net combined ratio (%) P/C: Return on revenue (%) P/C--Property/casualty. Risk position: Intermediate In our view, NB has an intermediate risk position. The company's investment portfolio has a high percentage of cash, while the bond portfolio is of very strong credit quality; 1% was invested in Dutch and German sovereign bonds rated 'AA+' or higher at the end of the third quarter of 214. Although there is a high (62%) concentration risk to the financial services sector, this reflects the high level of bank deposits. Furthermore, mitigating this risk is the fact that the entities in which the portfolio is concentrated consist largely of systemically important banks. Table 6 Nationale Borg-Maatschappij N.V. Risk Position --Year ended Dec (Mil. ) Total invested assets Net investment income Net investment yield (%) Net investment yield including realized capital gains/(losses) (%) Net investment yield including all gains/(losses) (%) Investment portfolio composition (%) Cash and short-term investments Bonds Equity investments Real estate Financial flexibility: Adequate We consider NB's financial flexibility to be adequate. NB presently has limited capital needs from its planned organic growth. Despite its strong profit generation, we view financial flexibility as only good because of NB's shareholding structure, whereby net income is almost fully upstreamed to shareholders (subject to maintaining NB's required level of capitalization), and given its limited ability to raise additional financing in the open market. However, the shareholders have indicated that they are willing to supply additional capital in case of need. JANUARY 22, 215 7

8 Other Assessments We regard NB's adequate enterprise risk management (ERM) and satisfactory management and governance as neutral for our ratings. Enterprise risk management: Adequate We consider NB's ERM to be adequate. We base our assessment on NB's adequate risk management culture and adequate controls for most of its key risks: underwriting, claims handling, and reinsurance risks. We view positively the improvements in NB's capital modelling capabilities over the past year. We consider NB's ERM to be of low importance to its rating, owing to the group's somewhat small size and its high capitalization. Management and governance: Satisfactory We consider NB's management and governance to be satisfactory. The company has a track record of strong execution and generally conservative and reasonable financial management. The considerable expertise and experience of the management team support the company's operational effectiveness. The company has adjusted its strategy to reflect changes in market conditions, as demonstrated by its scaling back of the previous strong growth in its reinsurance business. NB's focus on the bottom line means that standards for operational performance remain strong, supported by the group's use of Economic Value Added (EVA) principles as a performance metric. However, we believe that the small size of the company leaves it susceptible to the loss of key personnel, which may temporarily affect its operations. We have not identified any governance deficiencies in our assessment. Liquidity: Strong We consider Nationale Borg's liquidity to be strong, owing to its solid available liquidity sources, mainly premium income, and an asset portfolio that contains about 157 million in marketable securities. The company has some exposure to rating triggers and subsequent requirements to place collateral, but we regard these as manageable. With regard to liquidity stress derived from an unexpectedly large claims payment, we believe the group's reinsurers would provide it with funds at short notice, therefore protecting the group's liquidity position. Accounting Considerations The consolidated financial statements published by NB are prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). In analyzing these accounts, we have shown shareholder funds net of dividends paid. Since 27, in compliance with IFRS, NB has consolidated NBRe. Our analysis of risk-based capital is consistent with our published criteria for credit and surety insurance. Accordingly, we have calculated required capital based on the gross loss over gross exposure method, whereby the highest gross loss over 1 years is compared with gross exposure over the same period. The highest ratio over this period is then used to derive the 'BBB' level of required capital based on the current net exposure. Required capital is scaled upward for higher rating levels. JANUARY 22, 215 8

9 Related Criteria And Research Related Criteria Trade Credit Insurance Capital Requirements Under Standard & Poor's Capital Adequacy Model, Dec. 6, 213 Group Rating Methodology, Nov. 19, 213 Insurers: Rating Methodology, May 7, 213 Enterprise Risk Management, May 7, 213 Management And Governance Credit Factors For Corporate Entities And Insurers, Nov. 13, 212 Use Of CreditWatch And Outlooks, Sept. 14, 29 Refined Methodology And Assumptions For Analyzing Insurer Capital Adequacy Using The Risk-Based Insurance Capital Model, June 7, 21 Related Research Global Trade Credit Insurance Sector Carries Intermediate Industry And Country Risk, April 25, 214 Note: Nationale Borg-Maatschappij N.V. is domiciled in The Netherlands. Nationale Borg-Reinsurance N.V. is domiciled in Curacao. Ratings Detail (As Of January 22, 215) Operating Companies Covered By This Report Nationale Borg-Maatschappij N.V. Financial Strength Rating Local Currency Counterparty Credit Rating Local Currency Nationale Borg Reinsurance N.V. Financial Strength Rating Local Currency Issuer Credit Rating Local Currency Domicile A-/Stable/-- A-/Stable/-- A-/Stable/-- A-/Stable/-- Netherlands *Unless otherwise noted, all ratings in this report are global scale ratings. Standard & Poor's credit ratings on the global scale are comparable across countries. Standard & Poor's credit ratings on a national scale are relative to obligors or obligations within that specific country. Additional Contact: Insurance Ratings Europe; JANUARY 22, 215 9

10 Copyright 215 Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC, a part of McGraw Hill Financial. All rights reserved. No content (including ratings, credit-related analyses and data, valuations, model, software or other application or output therefrom) or any part thereof (Content) may be modified, reverse engineered, reproduced or distributed in any form by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC or its affiliates (collectively, S&P). The Content shall not be used for any unlawful or unauthorized purposes. S&P and any third-party providers, as well as their directors, officers, shareholders, employees or agents (collectively S&P Parties) do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, timeliness or availability of the Content. S&P Parties are not responsible for any errors or omissions (negligent or otherwise), regardless of the cause, for the results obtained from the use of the Content, or for the security or maintenance of any data input by the user. The Content is provided on an "as is" basis. S&P PARTIES DISCLAIM ANY AND ALL EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR USE, FREEDOM FROM BUGS, SOFTWARE ERRORS OR DEFECTS, THAT THE CONTENT'S FUNCTIONING WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED, OR THAT THE CONTENT WILL OPERATE WITH ANY SOFTWARE OR HARDWARE CONFIGURATION. In no event shall S&P Parties be liable to any party for any direct, indirect, incidental, exemplary, compensatory, punitive, special or consequential damages, costs, expenses, legal fees, or losses (including, without limitation, lost income or lost profits and opportunity costs or losses caused by negligence) in connection with any use of the Content even if advised of the possibility of such damages. Credit-related and other analyses, including ratings, and statements in the Content are statements of opinion as of the date they are expressed and not statements of fact. S&P's opinions, analyses, and rating acknowledgment decisions (described below) are not recommendations to purchase, hold, or sell any securities or to make any investment decisions, and do not address the suitability of any security. S&P assumes no obligation to update the Content following publication in any form or format. The Content should not be relied on and is not a substitute for the skill, judgment and experience of the user, its management, employees, advisors and/or clients when making investment and other business decisions. S&P does not act as a fiduciary or an investment advisor except where registered as such. While S&P has obtained information from sources it believes to be reliable, S&P does not perform an audit and undertakes no duty of due diligence or independent verification of any information it receives. To the extent that regulatory authorities allow a rating agency to acknowledge in one jurisdiction a rating issued in another jurisdiction for certain regulatory purposes, S&P reserves the right to assign, withdraw, or suspend such acknowledgement at any time and in its sole discretion. S&P Parties disclaim any duty whatsoever arising out of the assignment, withdrawal, or suspension of an acknowledgment as well as any liability for any damage alleged to have been suffered on account thereof. S&P keeps certain activities of its business units separate from each other in order to preserve the independence and objectivity of their respective activities. As a result, certain business units of S&P may have information that is not available to other S&P business units. S&P has established policies and procedures to maintain the confidentiality of certain nonpublic information received in connection with each analytical process. S&P may receive compensation for its ratings and certain analyses, normally from issuers or underwriters of securities or from obligors. S&P reserves the right to disseminate its opinions and analyses. S&P's public ratings and analyses are made available on its Web sites, (free of charge), and and (subscription) and (subscription) and may be distributed through other means, including via S&P publications and third-party redistributors. Additional information about our ratings fees is available at JANUARY 22, 215 1

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