Overview

     

    Insurer Financial Strength BBB+ Positive outlook
    Long-term Issuer Default Rating BBB Positive outlook
    Subordinated Debt Rating BB+ Positive outlook

    Last review 12 June 2018

     

    Last key dates

    • On the 12th of June 2018, Fitch has revised Ethias’ Outlook to Positive from Stable while affirming the Insurer Financial Strength (IFS) rating at BBB+ in order to reflects Fitch's view that the likely full repayment of Vitrufin debt and the full disposal of the insurer's capital-intensive individual life portfolio will lead to a strengthening in Ethias's capitalisation, profitability and financial flexibility.
    • On the 27th of June 2017, Fitch has upgraded Ethias’ Insurer Financial Strength (IFS) rating to BBB+ from BBB with stable outlook, in order to reflect the completion of Ethias’s recovery plan in May 2017 and resulting strengthening of capital profile and reduced exposure to interest rate risk.
    • On the 10th of January 2017, Fitch affirmed Ethias' Insurer Financial Strength rating at BBB with positive outlook, in order to reflect the success of the Switch VI operation that enables the company to improve its capital position and to reduce its sensitivity to interest rate changes.
    • On the 12th of September 2016, Fitch placed Ethias' Insurer Financial Strength rating on Rating Watch Positive (RWP) to reflect Ethias's announcement of a plan aimed at strengthening its Solvency II position and reducing its sensitivity to changes in interests rates.
    • On the 14th of October 2015, Fitch downgraded Ethias’ Insurer Financial Strength rating from BBB+ to BBB to reflect the increase of the financial leverage ratio resulting from the issuance of additional notes on the 5th of November 2015 (mechanical downgrade).
    • On the 25th of September 2015, the rating agency Fitch affirmed Ethias’ Insurer Financial Strength rating at BBB+ with stable outlook.

     

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    Last full report

     

    In its last full year report dated July 2018, Fitch recognizes the strong level of capitalisation of Ethias, its good profitability and the reduction of its duration gap.

    Selected extracts from Key Rating Drivers :
     


    Improving Credit Profile: The ratings reflect Ethias’s strong capital position, good profitability and sound business profile in Belgium. These strengths are counterbalanced by a moderate, albeit reducing, exposure to interest-rate risk, and the reliance that parent company Vitrufin places on Ethias for funding, through dividends, the payment of interest and principal on its EUR278 million debt maturing in January 2019.

     

    "Parent Loan Repayment Likely: Ethias paid EUR150 million dividends to Vitrufin in May 2018 related to its 2017 net income and plans to pay another EUR118 million in 2H18 as an interim dividend on its 2Q18 (or 3Q18) earnings. Fitch understands that Vitrufin is bound by the terms of the loan agreement to allocate Ethias’s dividends in priority to repay the loan."

     

    " ‘First A’ Disposal Credit Positive: Ethias has been running down its capital-intensive First A retail life reserves since 2010. Ethias announced the sale of its remaining First A portfolio (EUR189 million) in April 2018. The sale which was accounted for in 2017 has a positive effect on Ethias’s risk-adjusted capital profile and duration gap."

     

    "Strong Capitalisation: Fitch expects Ethias’s capitalisation to benefit from the normalisation of its dividend policy due to earnings retention from 2019. The volatility of its capital position has diminished via a reduction in the company’s interest-rate risk exposure. At end-2017, Ethias’s Solvency II (S2) margin, which excludes transitional arrangements and dividends, improved to 205% from 146% at end-2016. It has a ‘Very Strong’ score under Fitch’s Prism Factor-Based Capital Model (Prism FBM) at end-2017, after deduction of the EUR268 million dividends."

     

    "Good Profitability: Ethias’s underwriting performance is driven by the non-life business, whose profitability remains strong as demonstrated by a reported net IFRS combined ratio of 87.7% at end-2017. Fitch expects earnings in 2018 to be less affected by non-recurring items and be more reflective of consistent technical results."

     

    "Reduced Duration Gap: Ethias has significantly reduced its exposure to interest-rate risk, resulting from historically high minimum guaranteed returns on life technical liabilities. Fitch views Ethias’s investment policy as prudent. The overall risk profile of the investment portfolio remains a rating strength."

     

    Fitch, July, 2018


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    The evolution of the rating of Ethias SA is the following: 

    Date Insurer Financiel Strength (IFS) Insurer Default Rating (IDR) Outlooks
    12/06/2018 BBB+ BBB+ Positive Outlook
    27/06/2017 BBB+ BBB Stable outlook
    10/01/2017 BBB BBB- Positive outlook
    12/09/2016 BBB placed on RWP BBB- placed on RWP  
    14/10/2015 BBB BBB- Stable outlook
    25/09/2015 BBB+ BBB Stable outlook
    17/12/2014 BBB+ BBB Stable outlook
    30/07/2014 BBB+ BBB Stable outlook
    13/02/2014 BBB BBB- Stable outlook
    25/06/2013 BBB BBB- Stable outlook


    The rating of subordinated debts is the following:

    Issue date Program ISIN Code Rating
    05/11/2015

    EUR 170.8M tap issue of dated subordinated notes due 2026

    BE6279619330 BB+
    14/07/2015 EUR 231.9M fixed rate dated subordinated notes due 2026 BE6279619330 BB+
    20/12/2015

    EUR 14M fixed/floating rate subordinated undated bonds

    BE0930906947 BB+


    Fitch press releases & annual reports: 

    Annual reports
    July 2018
    July 2017
    September 2016
    October 2015
    September 2014
    July 2013
    Press releases
        June 2018
    January 2018
    June 2017
    January 2017
    December 2016
    September 2016
    October 2015
    September 2015
    December 2014
    July 2014
    February 2014
    June 2013

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