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S&P downgrades PartnerRe to A+

PartnerRe’s financial strength rating has been lowered to A+ from AA- by Standard & Poor’s Rating Services.

The New York-based credit ratings agency said the Bermuda reinsurer’s earnings were lower than its analysts expected in 2011 they believe “its prospective earnings are unlikely to be above peer group levels over the next two to three years”.

It also stated the opinion that “PartnerRe’s overall enterprise risk management capabilities have not fully kept pace with the changing risk profile of the larger and more complex organisation that was created following the Paris Re acquisition”.

PartnerRe acquired the Swiss reinsurer in a $2 billion deal in 2009.

S&P announced the action on Friday. It comes after a brutal 2011 for the company, which brought a net loss of $520 million, driven by catastrophe losses of some $1.8 billion.

The agency also lowered its counterparty credit and senior debt ratings on the ultimate holding company, PartnerRe Ltd., by one notch to A- from A.

Although Standard & Poor’s continues to view PartnerRe’s competitive position as very strong given its diversified platform and long-held relationships with clients in many different regions of the world, the agency commented that “in more recent years the group has not been able to translate these competitive advantages into operating results that are stronger than its peers”.

S&P also noted that liquidity remained “very strong” with $1.4 billion in cash and short-term investments on the balance sheet at year-end 2011

The agency added that PartnerRe’s “historically conservative reserving practices for long-tail lines enhance its quality of capital”.

The A+ rating still leaves PartnerRe rated higher than most of its Bermuda property and catastrophe reinsurer rivals.

Devastation: PartnerRe was hit last year by losses from catastrophes including the Japan earthquake and tsunami last March.

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Published February 20, 2012 at 7:00 am (Updated February 19, 2012 at 8:15 pm)

S&P downgrades PartnerRe to A+

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