Financial Guarantee Interest Expense
Financial guarantee interest expense for the third quarter of 2010 amounted to $27.5 million. This interest charge results from the accrual of interest plus the accretion of discount on all surplus notes issued prior to September 30, 2010. No such surplus notes were outstanding in 2009.
During the third quarter of 2010, AAC commuted its reinsurance arrangement with its subsidiary, Ambac UK. Prior to the termination, AAC had assumed 90% of all financial guarantee policies written by Ambac UK on a quota-share basis and also provided excess of loss protection for the aggregate of all incurred losses in excess of an attachment point of £0.5 million of net paid losses per calendar year. The net income impact of the termination in 2010 was a gain of $157.8 million, included in the Consolidated Statement of Operations as part of Other Income. The gain resulted primarily from the recognition of foreign currency gains that, prior to the termination, had not been reflected in AAC’s assets or liabilities such as unearned premium reserves and deferred acquisition costs, since these assets and liabilities (referred to as “non-monetary assets and liabilities” for foreign exchange accounting purposes) were required to be recorded based on their historical foreign exchange rates. During the third quarter 2009, Ambac cancelled reinsurance contracts with three reinsurers and recaptured approximately $15.3 billion of par outstanding. The net income impact of the cancellations in 2009, included in the Consolidated Statement of Operations as part of Other Income and as a reduction in Operating Expenses, amounted to approximately $285.5 million and ($17.5) million, respectively.
The financial services segment comprises the investment agreement business and the derivative products business, both of which are in run-off. Gross interest income less gross interest expense and operating expenses from investment and payment agreements, plus operating results from the derivative products business was ($77.4) million for the third quarter of 2010, up from ($213.7) million for the third quarter of 2009. Beginning in the second half of 2009, the financial services segment has been positioned to record gains in a rising interest rate environment in order to provide a hedge against certain exposures within the financial guarantee segment. The third quarter 2010 result was impacted by declining interest rates on the financial services derivative portfolio during the period partially offset by the effect of valuation adjustments relating to Ambac’s credit risk on uncollateralized contracts. The third quarter 2009 result was driven by losses resulting from interest rate movements during the quarter, losses realized on transactions that derivative counterparties terminated as a result of the downgrades of AAC as guarantor of the swaps and valuation adjustments on the remaining swap portfolio within the derivative products business.