A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of A (Excellent) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of “a+” of AXIS Specialty Limited (AXIS) and its operating affiliates. Concurrently, A.M. Best has affirmed the ICR of “bbb+” and all existing debt ratings of AXIS’ parent, AXIS Capital Holdings Limited (ACHL) (both domiciled in Hamilton, Bermuda) [NYSE: AXS]. The outlook for all ratings is positive. (See below for a detailed list of the companies and ratings.) The ratings reflect AXIS’ excellent risk-adjusted capitalization, consistently strong operating performance through varied market conditions and robust enterprise risk management controls. AXIS’ operating strategy has historically emphasized underwriting profitability with a balanced risk profile. Given the current soft casualty market conditions, the company is well positioned with a diversified book of business and an expanding worldwide infrastructure. AXIS’ book of business emphasizes short to medium-tail lines and focuses on specialty risks including property, marine and political risk, along with property catastrophe coverages. AXIS’ historical operating performance has been strong, which places it among the top of its Bermudian peer group. In A.M. Best’s opinion, AXIS’ solid performance is attributable to its highly developed and integrated risk management controls and strong systems capabilities. Furthermore, AXIS retains a very strong level of risk-based capitalization under various A.M. Best stress scenarios. Partially offsetting these positive rating factors is AXIS’ exposure to large catastrophe losses as well as the current soft casualty market environment. In addition, while A.M. Best considers the organization’s executive management team to be strong, recently and within the past several months it has implemented changes at the senior management level and the Board of Directors, including the chief executive officer and chairman of the Board of Directors. While it is expected that the corporate culture and strategy of the organization will not change materially, A.M. Best will continue to monitor this period of transition.