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January 2008/5

  • Troubled XL Capital's downgrade to A by both AM Best and Fitch Ratings late last week would limit its competitive position, particularly in US casualty business, analysts have warned.
  • Lloyd's has confirmed underwriting capacity at 1 January 2008 of £15.95bn, only fractionally down on the £16.1bn the market began 2007 with.
  • In what proved to another brutal week for the monoline insurers, the financial guaranty and credit (re)insurance specialist Assured Guaranty Ltd (AGL) took a $302.9mn after-tax unrealised mark-to-market loss...
  • UK consolidator Towergate Partnership has bought Scottish broker, McAra Associates Ltd, together with the mortgage payment specialist, British Insurance.
  • The US state of Massachusetts has issued subpoenas to ailing financial guaranty insurers Ambac Financial Group and MBIA Inc seeking disclosure on their exposure to sub-prime investments.
  • XL Capital's decision not to bail out Security Capital Assurance Ltd (SCA) and its financial guaranty insurance subsidiaries has led ratings agency Fitch to slash the bond insurer’s financial strength ratings from AAA to A.
  • Predicted sub-prime losses for insured management and professional lines have shot up to $9bn from an earlier $3bn as notifications and class action lawsuits continue to mount, according to Bear Stearns analyst David Small.
  • Bermudians Arch Capital and RenaissanceRe Holdings have emerged as the companies courting Lloyd's insurer Heritage Underwriting Agency, according to sources.
  • German financial services giant Allianz AG's pre-announced EUR10.8bn of 2007 operating profit, prompting analysts at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods (KBW), to revise their forecast for the firm from Underperform to Market Perform.
  • US insurer The Hartford Financial Services Group has reported core earnings of $840mn, or $2.66 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2007, a 22 percent increase on the same period in 2006.
  • Specialty insurance group Markel Corporation has improved on last year's record performance despite seeing its combined ratio rise, it reported in its 2007 results.
  • In a letter to shareholders Max Re chairman and CEO Marty Becker said the company would be looking to make acquisitions this year as it makes "economic sense" at this time in the reinsurance cycle.