MFC.PR.A / MFC.PR.B / MFC.PR.C : S&P Affirms Ratings, Outlook Negative

MFC, after getting into trouble with imprudent stock speculation – and partially bailed out by OSFI – is issuing common stock:

Manulife Financial Corporation (MFC) will further strengthen its financial and capital position by issuing $2.125 billion in common equity which would raise its regulatory capital ratio to one of the highest levels in the Company’s history.

On a pro forma basis, after giving effect to the $2.125 billion of common equity and the remaining $2 billion credit facility, and reflecting global equity market levels as of the end of November 2008, the consolidated capital ratio or MCCSR is estimated to be approximately 235%, one of the highest in the company’s history.

MFC also provided an update on its expected earnings for 2008. Assuming global equity markets closed at the end of November 2008 levels, net income for the year is estimated to be approximately $900 million.

2008 earnings to the end of the third quarter had been reported as $2,485-million. Perhaps Manulife should have taken lessons from Portus Group, whose principal protection seems to have held up pretty well!

S&P announced:

it revised its outlook on Manulife Financial Corp. and all of its rated operating companies to negative from stable. In addition, Standard & Poor’s affirmed its ratings on Manulife Financial, including its ‘AA’ long-term counterparty credit rating and the ‘AAA’ financial strength ratings on its rated operating subsidiaries. Its key operating subsidiaries include: The Manufacturers Life Insurance Co., John Hancock Life Insurance Co., John Hancock Life Insurance Co. (U.S.A.), Manulife (International) Ltd., and Manulife Life Insurance Co. Ltd.

The outlook revision reflects our opinion of the reduced level of financial flexibility that the group has with its ‘AAA’ financial strength ratings given the decline and volatility of the global equity markets and the resultant impact on earnings and capital, utilization of its bank term facility, and plans to complete a C$2.125 billion common equity issue.

While the negative outlook on Manulife Financial and its rated subsidiaries reflects our view of the group’s reduced level of financial flexibility, we believe that Manulife is likely to continue to maintain its solid operating performance, business franchise, and capital adequacy position. From our analysis, it has a higher risk business profile compared with other ‘AAA’ rated insurers. Standard & Poor’s ratings anticipate that the firm will maintain its current enterprise risk management practices, although we will continue to monitor how the company assesses its appetite for equity risk retention. Our ratings also reflect our expectations that the investment portfolio likely will remain well diversified with minimal asset quality issues, and revenue growth and financial leverage are expected to remain at levels that are in line with the current ratings. We could revise the outlook to stable if management actions remain responsive, the business franchise continues to show resilience through these challenging times by displaying very strong core operating performance, and the equity markets begin to show signs of recovery and the pressure on VA reserve and capital requirements diminish. We expect that the ratings could be lowered by one notch if there is any evidence of deterioration in one or more of the above metrics, or if the global equity markets remain in a deep and permanent decline.

These issues were last highlighted on PrefBlog when DBRS changed the trend from positive to stable.

One Response to “MFC.PR.A / MFC.PR.B / MFC.PR.C : S&P Affirms Ratings, Outlook Negative”

  1. […] previous mention of these issues on PrefBlog was on Dec. 2, 2008, when S&P affirmed the ratings with a negative outlook. MFC’s 4Q08 Results were briefly reported on […]

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