TEXT-S&P comments on White Mountains Insurance Group

Tue Jul 24, 2012 11:44am EDT

July 24 - Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said today that White Mountains Insurance Group Ltd.'s (WTM; BBB/Stable/--) recent investment in HG Global Ltd. has no impact on our rating on WTM. WTM capitalized HG Global with approximately $600 million to fund newly formed mutual bond insurer Build America Mutual Assurance Co. (BAM; AA/Stable/--) through surplus notes and to provide reinsurance support for municipal bond insurance risks BAM underwrites (see Build America Mutual Assurance Co. Rated 'AA'; Outlook Stable, published July 23, 2012, on RatingsDirect). The investment in HG Global (and indirectly in BAM) should increase the diversity of WTM's earnings by providing a future source of income beyond its current investments in majority-owned specialty insurer OneBeacon Insurance Group Ltd. and 100% owned global reinsurer Sirius International Insurance Group Ltd. We continue to view WTM's merger and acquisition strategy as opportunistic and believe the holding company is likely to continue to make acquisitions and dispositions in coming years. Consistent with this opinion, we believe WTM will seek to syndicate approximately $110 million of its HG Global investment to other investors, and view this as rating neutral (see White Mountains Insurance Group Ltd. Upgraded To 'BBB' From 'BBB-'; Outlook Stable, published June 29, 2012).

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