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Insurance ratings actions: Moody's upgrades W. R. Berkley subsidiaries

S&P Global Market Intelligence compiles ratings actions in the insurance space daily through 5:30 p.m. ET. Actions after 5:30 p.m. ET will be included in the following day's roundup.

Life and health

A.M. Best removed from under review with developing implications and affirmed the financial strength rating of B+ (Good) and the long-term issuer credit rating of "bbb-" of Cincinnati Equitable Life Insurance Co.

The outlook assigned to these ratings is stable.

The ratings reflect Cincinnati Equitable's adequate balance sheet strength, marginal operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management.

The ratings action precedes the close of the company's pending acquisition by Global Bankers Insurance Group in 2018.

A.M. Best assessed that the rating profile of the company is unlikely to be directly affected by the acquisition over the near term, should the transaction be consummated, and as a result has removed the ratings of Cincinnati Equitable from under review.

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Fitch Ratings affirmed the long-term issuer default rating of Athene Holding Ltd. at BBB.

The A- insurer financial strength ratings of its subsidiaries Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Co., Athene Annuity and Life Co., Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Co. of New York and Athene Life Re Ltd. were also affirmed.

The outlook was revised to positive from stable.

The affirmation reflects Fitch's view that Athene's financial performance and balance sheet fundamentals remain in line with ratings expectations. The company continues to maintain a leading position in the U.S. retail annuity market.

The revision in the outlook was based on Athene's improved business profile, which has benefited from the company's progress on diversifying sources of revenue, earnings, risk and sustained strong operating performance.

Fitch said Athene's improved business profile also reflects favorable regulatory developments tied to the recent appeals court ruling vacating the Department of Labor's restrictive fiduciary regulation, which would have exposed Athene and other annuity writers to heightened litigation risk.

Property and casualty

Moody's upgraded the insurance financial strength ratings of Berkley Insurance Co., Admiral Insurance Co. and Berkley Regional Specialty Insurance Co.

The companies are the principal operating subsidiaries of W. R. Berkley Corp. The outlook was changed to stable from under review.

The ratings action reflects W.R. Berkley's underwriting strength and track record of strong and stable profitability coupled with a low catastrophe risk profile.

Partially offsetting the positive factors are the the company's exposure to long-tail casualty businesses, which have greater reserve and pricing risk, and risks associated with entering new lines of business where historical actuarial data is limited.

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