Saturday, May 16, 2009
LONDON (Reuters) - A second Lehman Brothers-backed catastrophe bond is in default after issuer Ajax Re Ltd failed to repay principal in full at maturity, according to credit rating agencies.
The $100 million bond, issued in April 2007 to give Bermuda-based Aspen Insurance Holdings Ltd cover against losses from earthquakes in California, had been expected to default following the collapse of Lehman, its effective guarantor.
Credit rating agency Standard & Poor's said in a May 11 statement that it had lowered its rating on the bond to D, signifying default, and withdrawn the rating.
It said Ajax Re had paid all the interest due on the bond, "but the ultimate payment of principal was not made in full on May 8, 2008 due to a shortfall in the realizable value of the collateral assets under the TRS (total return swap)."
S&P had said a default was likely despite a timely payment of interest on March 16.
The deal is among four catastrophe bonds that used a unit of Lehman Brothers as TRS counterparty, contracted to ensure the collateral backing the bonds was sufficient to meet interest and principal repayments, and to make up any shortfall.
When the U.S. investment bank filed for bankruptcy on September 15, investors were left with direct exposure to market losses on the collateral assets, and the bonds were downgraded.
Another of the bonds, issued by Willow Re with Allstate Corp as ceding insurer, was already in default after Willow failed to make in full a February 2 interest payment.
Another rating agency, insurance specialist A.M. Best, also said it had downgraded the Ajax Re notes to "d" following the failure to fully repay the principal at redemption.
Insurers have used catastrophe bonds since the 1990s to manage their exposure to natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes by transferring potential losses to investment funds. Investors receive a high rate of interest but risk losing part or all of their principal if a catastrophe occurs.
(Reporting by Catherine Evans; Editing by Simon Jessop)
Friday, May 15, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
If you are a policyholder and wish to attend the annual general meeting, you can send your request to the cooperative secretary at this address (email@example.com). You can also send in your own questions.
I wish to ask a few questions on behalf of many policyholders who bought life insurance from NTUC Income on the understanding that it is a cooperative working in the interest of its policyholders.
NTUC Income reduced its bonus rates for several series of policies last year, in spite of excellent investment results. At the annual general meeting, the chairman gave the following assurances to the policyholders:
a) While special bonuses are not guaranteed, they are designed to ensure that the reduction in annual bonus is compensated. As I have indicated earlier, the new bonus structure is aimed at improving, the total payout to policyholders.
b) Should the special bonus in future reduce due to adverse financial conditions, we are committed to restoring it when conditions improve.
c) I have stated that this Board will look after the policyholders’ interests. Towards this end, the Board will ensure that the bonus allocated to policyholders result in payouts is fair and consistent with the experience of the Life Fund.
There is an announcement that the bonus cut will be extended to all other series of policies this year.
My questions are:
1. What is the total amount of bonus that were reduced in 2007 and 2008 compared to the bonuses that would have been declared if the bonuses had been maintained at the same rates declared in 2006. Please provide the actuarial value of the bonuses that have been reduced, in millions of dollars, for the policies that were affected.
2. What is the amount of management and selling expenses incurred for the life insurance business for 2006, 2007 and 2008. Are steps being taken to reduce these expenses in line with the reduction in bonuses suffered by the policyholders?
3. Please explain how the reduction in bonus can achieve a better payout to policyholders? With the reduction in the bonus last year, was the cooperative able to invest the undistributed surplus to earn a higher return for policyholders?
4. Will the cooperative be able to maintain the special bonus payable on maturity and surrender, which was adjusted to compensate for the reduction in the annual bonuses? Is there any likelihood that the special bonus will have to be reduced, due to the global financial crisis?
5. For policies which have matured since the last AGM, was the cooperative able to meet the promise that the payout will be fair and based on the actual experience of the fund? Where the actual payouts were short of what is due to them, does the cooperative intend to make the appropriate adjustment for these policyholders?
6. Based on renewals made in recent months, what is the average rate of increase in motor insurance premium paid by policyholders who did not make any claim during the past year? Does the cooperative intend to control its expenses and claims to allow it to reduce the premium rates for its policyholders? What steps are being taken to achieve this goal?
Sunday, May 10, 2009
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- Survey - social benefits and taxation
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- Second Lehman-backed catastrophe bond defaults
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- Photos from the Canadian Rockies
- Questions for the AGM of NTUC Income, 29 May 2009
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