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EQUITABLE COMPANIES $300 MILLION SENIOR/SUBORDINATED DEBT SHELF RATED 'A/A-' BY FITCH -- FITCH FINANCIAL WIRE --

 NEW YORK, Nov. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- The Equitable Companies Incorporated's $300 million senior and subordinated debt shelf registration is rated "A" and "A-", respectively, by Fitch. The shelf registration was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Nov. 10, 1994. A "A-" rating is assigned to The Equitable's proposed issuance of up to $408.25 million of convertible subordinated debentures due 2024. At the same time, the "A" rating on The Equitable's existing $304 million Series I and II senior debt is affirmed. The credit trend is stable.
 The $300 million shelf will be available to The Equitable to help improve the capital position of its subsidiary life insurance operation, which is experiencing strong growth. Debt issued from the shelf on a senior basis would be pari passu with its existing $304 million of outstanding debt, which matures in 2000 and 2004.
 The proposed $408.25 million of convertible subordinated debentures would be issued in conjunction with The Equitable's announced preferred stock conversion program. That program would eliminate all of the company's existing preferred stock, except the Series D, by exchanging the Series A and B preferred stock into approximately 39 million common shares, which would be owned by AXA. The Series C convertible preferred stock would be converted into the convertible subordinated debentures and a Series E preferred stock issue which pays common stock dividends. The Series D convertible preferred stock, which is owned by the company's Stock Employee Compensation Trust, would remain outstanding.
 The changes to the capital structure, including $300 million of new senior debt from the shelf registration, is expected to increase cash flow in subsequent years by almost $40 million per year and result in a debt and preferred stock to total capitalization ratio of 35% from 42%, currently. The conversion of the preferred stock into common shares increases AXA's fully diluted ownership of The Equitable to approximately 60% from 56.6%.
 The Equitable remains one of the nation's leading providers of life insurance, investment and asset management products. In recent years the company has greatly improved its capital base, financial flexibility, asset quality, and profitability. At Sept. 30, 1994, The Equitable reported $103.6 billion of assets and $3.1 billion of equity. Earnings through the third quarter were $239.9 million.
 -0- 11/23/94
 /CONTACT: Laurance M. Ring, 212-908-0673 or David Matthews, 212-908-0695 both of Fitch/
 (EQ)


CO: Equitable Companies Incorporated ST: New York IN: INS SU: RTG

SP -- NY020 -- 7742 11/23/94 09:55 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 23, 1994
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