TEXT-Fitch rates Principal Financial Group unsecured notes 'A-'
Nov 13 - Fitch Ratings has assigned an 'A-' rating to Principal Financial Group, Inc.'s (PFG) proposed issuance of approximately $800 million of senior unsecured notes. PFG's long-term Issuer Default Rating is unaffected by this rating action. Fitch placed the ratings of PFG and its insurance operating subsidiaries on Rating Watch Negative on Oct. 9, 2012, following the company's announcement that it would acquire AFP Cuprum S.A. (Cuprum), a Chilean pension manager, for consideration of approximately $1.5 billion. The Rating Watch reflects Fitch's view that financing of the transaction will bring PFG's financial leverage and coverage to levels near previously articulated downgrade triggers. The notes being rated today are being issued to fund this acquisition. The notes are guaranteed by PFG's intermediate holding company, Principal Financial Services, Inc., of which the organization's primary operating companies are wholly owned subsidiaries. This includes Principal Life Insurance Company, PFG's largest insurance operating subsidiary and the source of the vast majority of the overall organization's operating cash flow. Following issuance of the notes and near-term refinancing activities, Fitch expects PFG's financial leverage ratio to settle at a level slightly below Fitch's rating trigger of 25%. The company's financial leverage was approximately 21% at Sept. 30, 2012. PFG, headquartered in Des Moines, IA, markets a range of retirement savings, investment and insurance products and services primarily in the small- to medium-sized business segment. PFG reported consolidated assets of $159 billion, and total shareholders' equity of $9.8 billion at Sept. 30, 2012. Fitch has assigned the following rating: Principal Financial Group, Inc. --New senior unsecured notes 'A-'.