Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services announced that it has assigned its preliminary “BBB” senior debt, “BBB-” subordinated debt, and “BB+” preferred stock ratings to the $750 million universal shelf registration filed by Bermuda-based Platinum Underwriters Holdings Ltd.
“These ratings reflect the company’s strong competitive position in the global reinsurance market, strong capitalization, and moderate financial leverage,” explained S&P credit analyst Jason Jones.
S&P noted, however: “Offsetting these strengths are Platinum’s short tenure as an independent company and 2005 hurricane losses which marred otherwise strong earnings. Although the third-quarter hurricane losses were a significant 22 percent of June 30, 2005, shareholders’ equity, Platinum raised $162 million of new common equity to bring Sept. 30, 2005, equity to $1.2 billion, which is up from $1.1 billion as of year-end 2004.”
S&P said it “believes the timing and amount of Platinum’s shelf utilization will reflect the company’s capital needs for 2006 business opportunities. The main driver of new business is expected to be property and marine reinsurance, as favorable rate increases after the 2005 hurricanes are likely to increase Platinum’s opportunities in this market. Excluding the equity security units (ESU), which are treated as hybrid equity capital by Standard & Poor’s, Platinum’s debt-to-capital is expected to remain close to its current 15.5 percent and debt-plus-preferred-to-capital could go higher but is expected to remain less than 25 percent. Excluding the impact of 2005 hurricanes, fixed-charge coverage (excluding ESU interest) is expected to be at least 7x, which is more than sufficient for the rating.”
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