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NATIONWIDE CEO SAYS COMPANY HAS EXCELLENT CREDENTIALS

 NATIONWIDE CEO SAYS COMPANY HAS EXCELLENT CREDENTIALS
 COLUMBUS, Ohio, Jan. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- "Nationwide Insurance is a sound and strong organization with excellent financial credentials," John E. Fisher, the company's general chairman and chief executive officer, said today.
 "That was confirmed today," he said, "by the compliment Moody's paid the Nationwide enterprise in its annoncement of a Aa1 excellent rating for the Nationwide group. But," he added, "we regret that Moody's concerns about the insurance industry's operating environment causes that rating service to continue its practice of downrating the insurance industry."
 Fisher offered his views in a news release after Moody's Investors Service announced its change of Nationwide's financial rating from Aaa ("exceptional") to Aa1 ("excellent"). Aa1 is Moody's second highest rating.
 In announcing the rating change, Moody's said, "The overall Nationwide enterprise continues to exhibit excellent liquidity and asset quality. The enterprise also benefits from capable management and effective distribution channels."
 Fisher noted that "Nationwide showed excellent growth in auto insurance premium (up 6 percent) and wound up with a favorable combined ratio in 1991. We also selectively reduced our exposure in workers' compensation," a line about which Moody's expressed concern.
 "Nationwide has a well underwritten mortgage portfolio, which Moody's acknowledged," Fisher said, "and Nationwide Life is growing at an excellent pace that justifies increased investment in that company by Nationwide Mutual" (parent company of the Nationwide group).
 "Careful management, prudent investment, and vigorous but cautious growth strategies," Fisher said, "enabled Nationwide to become and remain a strong and vibrant industry leader.
 "Even though Moody's has changed the company's rating," Fisher added, "Nationwide Insurance's financial strength remains unchanged. In fact, preliminary reports show that 1991 was an outstanding year for Nationwide. Our year-end policyholder surplus, for example, is the largest in our history.
 "Because Nationwide is on a safe and sure course, and is fully capable of meeting all obligations, we plan no change in our operations," Fisher said.
 Moody's Aa1 rating, the second highest of 13 that the rating service has, applies to nine Nationwide's insurance companies -- life and property-casualty.
 -0- 1/23/92
 /CONTACT: Lou Fabro, 614-249-6341, Jeff Botti, 614-249-6339, or Bob Sohovich, 614-249-6356, all of Nationwide Insurance/ CO: Nationwide Insurance ST: Ohio IN: INS SU:


LC -- CL023 -- 3056 01/23/92 17:38 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 23, 1992
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