A.M. Best has revised the outlook to positive from stable and affirmed the issuer credit ratings (ICR) of “a” of the key life insurance entities of Voya Financial, Inc. (Voya) (headquartered in New York, NY) [NYSE:VOYA]. At the same time, A.M. Best has affirmed with a stable outlook the financial strength rating (FSR) of A (Excellent) of the life subsidiaries of Voya.
Concurrently, A.M. Best has revised the outlook to positive from stable and affirmed the ICR of “bbb” of Voya as well as the ratings on Voya’s outstanding debt. (Please see below for a detailed listing of the companies and debt ratings.)
The rating actions reflect the favorable trends in Voya’s statutory and GAAP operating earnings, sound risk-adjusted capitalization and renewed focus on its retirement and employee benefits businesses. In addition, A.M. Best acknowledges the organization’s success in executing the initial public offering in May 2013 and subsequent public offerings that have reduced ING Group’s ownership of Voya to approximately 43%. While some execution risks remain surrounding the completion of the process of becoming independent and rebranding to Voya, A.M. Best believes this risk has somewhat diminished as demonstrated by recent successful debt issuances totaling approximately $3 billion and favorable demand for its public shares. With the proceeds from the longer-term debt issuances, Voya has been able to eliminate its short-term debt while reducing overall financial leverage to approximately 20% with interest coverage improving to approximately 5 times. A.M. Best notes that Voya currently maintains a favorable debt maturity profile with no debt maturing before 2018.
Additionally, Voya’s ratings reflect the group’s established positions within the U.S. retirement, investment management and life insurance markets. Overall, A.M. Best believes Voya has improved its risk profile as the company has reduced some of its exposure to higher-risk assets in its general account, discontinued sales of variable annuities and certain capital-intensive life insurance products as well as continued to focus on enhancing risk management practices. Furthermore, the net amount at risk for its closed block of variable annuities (CBVA) has improved considerably over the past several quarters, driven primarily by favorable market conditions.