A.M. Best Co. has removed from under review with negative implications and affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of A (Excellent) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of “a” of the key life insurance entities of ING U.S., Inc. (Delaware), the holding company for the U.S. operations of ING Groep N.V. (ING Group) (Netherlands) [NYSE: ING]. The U.S. operations of ING Group are collectively known as ING USA. Additionally, A.M. Best has removed from under review with negative implications and affirmed the debt and program ratings of “a” of ING Security Life Institutional Funding. The outlook assigned to these ratings is stable.
Concurrently, A.M. Best has assigned an ICR of “bbb” and a debt rating of “bbb” to ING U.S., Inc. and its recent issuance of $850 million of 5.50% 10-year senior unsecured notes. A.M. Best also has affirmed the FSR of A- (Excellent) and ICR of “a-” of Midwestern United Life Insurance Company (Atlanta, GA). The outlook for these ratings is stable. (See below for a detailed listing of the companies and ratings.)
The ratings recognize ING USA’s strong market position in the life insurance and retirement markets, profitable operating results and improved levels of risk-adjusted capital. Although historically supported by its ultimate parent, ING Group, A.M. Best notes that ING Group has a planned initial public offering (IPO) of its U.S. operations within the next 12-18 months. Additionally, the assigned ratings reflect A.M. Best’s expected completion of this process, which will be evidence of ING USA’s successful capital initiatives. The new senior notes, together with the proceeds from the anticipated IPO of the U.S. life/annuity operations, should facilitate ING USA achieving its targeted independent capital structure, with financial leverage and interest coverage expected to fall within A.M. Best’s guidelines for its current ratings. The proceeds from the notes will be used for general corporate purposes, including the repayment of outstanding bank borrowings.