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MERRILL LYNCH LIFE INSURANCE CLAIMS-PAYING ABILITY 'AA' BY FITCH -- FITCH FINANCIAL WIRE --

 NEW YORK, Jan. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Merrill Lynch Life Insurance Co.'s (MLLIC) and ML Life Insurance Co. of New York's (MLLIC-NY) claims-paying abilities are rated "AA" by Fitch. The ratings are based on the companies' strong operating fundamentals, solid asset quality and capitalization, as well as their strategic fit within the Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. organization.
 MLLIC and MLLIC-NY are wholly owned subsidiaries of Merrill Lynch Insurance Group, a subsidiary of Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. Both companies are well managed and integrated with Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., which provides investment management, back-office, and sales support for insurance products.
 MLLIC and MLLIC-NY are domiciled in Arkansas and New York, respectively; however, the companies are managed administratively as one operating entity. At Sept. 30, 1993, consolidated assets totalled $12.6 billion, of which $6.9 billion represented general account assets. Capitalization is strong, with consolidated statutory capital of $671 million at Sept. 30, 1993, including asset valuation reserves. The capital ratio is conservative, with a pro forma adjusted capital to adjusted liabilities ratio of 8.1%, net of an extraordinary dividend payment of $120 million paid Dec. 31, 1993.
 Both companies demonstrate sound operating fundamentals, with consolidated statutory net income of $40.5 million through 1993's first nine months. Asset quality in the general account is strong, and compares very favorably to the industry both in asset diversification and risk characteristics. Working closely with Merrill Lynch Asset Management, management maintains a conservative liquidity and asset/liability mix.
 Since 1992, marketing efforts have been directed at increasing sales of separate account products while de-emphasizing fixed-rate guaranteed products. These products are distributed primarily through Merrill Lynch's network of financial consultants. At Sept. 30, 1993, separate account assets grew 26.7% over year-end 1992. Conversely, general account assets, to which the claims-paying ratings apply, declined 12.3% over the same period, as policyholders with fixed-rate annuity contracts up for renewal converted their accounts into a Merrill Lynch separate account or other Merrill Lynch investment products. Management anticipates sales growth in the 1990s will stem predominantly from its separate accounts business.
 -0- 1/14/94
 /CONTACT: Lygia X. Campbell, 212-908-0695 or Laurence Ring, 212-908-0637, both of Fitch/
 (MER)


CO: Merrill Lynch Life Insurance Co. ST: New York IN: INS SU: RTG

LG -- NY056 -- 7430 01/14/94 15:22 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 14, 1994
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