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A.M. Best Affirms Ratings of Lloyd's Syndicate 33; Revises Outlook to Stable.

OLDWICK, N.J. -- A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the Best's Syndicate Rating of A (Excellent) and the issuer credit rating (ICR) of "a+" of Lloyd's Syndicate 33, which is managed by Hiscox Syndicates Limited. The outlook on both ratings has been revised to stable from positive, reflecting the stable outlook on the rating of Lloyd's of London. A.M. Best has also affirmed the ICRs of "bbb+" of Hiscox plc (United Kingdom), the group's UK holding company, and Hiscox Limited (Bermuda), the group's ultimate parent holding company. The outlook for these ratings remains stable.

In A.M. Best's opinion, support from Hiscox Limited enhances the syndicate's capital flexibility through its access to capital markets and credit facilities. In 2007, Hiscox Dedicated Corporate Member Limited (a wholly owned subsidiary of Hiscox Limited) provides 72.5% of the syndicate's funds at Lloyd's (FAL) through a syndicated bank letter of credit for GBP 137.5 million (USD 281 million) and assets held in trust of approximately GBP 117 million (USD 239 million). The balance of the syndicate's FAL requirement is met by its third party members.

A.M. Best believes that syndicate 33 is likely to produce a good return on capacity (after personal expenses) when the 2007 underwriting year is closed. In 2006, a return of between 15.0% and 22.5% is expected, in line with the syndicate's June 2007 forecasts.

In A.M. Best's opinion, syndicate 33 has an excellent profile. The syndicate is one of the largest in Lloyd's, with allocated capacity of GBP 875 million (USD 1,750 million) for 2007. This is supplemented by a qualifying quota share on the syndicate's property excess of loss reinsurance business with Panther Re Bermuda Ltd (Panther Re), a limited-life special purpose reinsurer based in Bermuda. Panther Re will cease underwriting at year-end 2007. A.M. Best anticipates that some business previously ceded to Panther Re will be retained by the syndicate, with the remainder either ceded to other reinsurers or not renewed. The syndicate underwrites a well diversified account both by business class and territory and leads a significant proportion of the business it writes.

For Best's Ratings, an overview of the rating process and rating methodologies, please visit www.ambest.com/ratings.

Founded in 1899, A.M. Best Company is a global full-service credit rating organization dedicated to serving the financial and health care service industries, including insurance companies, banks, hospitals and health care system providers. For more information, visit www.ambest.com.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Oct 19, 2007
Words:415
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