TEXT-Fitch expects to rate ING U.S. new notes 'BBB-'
Feb 7 - Fitch Ratings expects to assign a 'BBB-' rating to ING U.S., Inc.'s (ING U.S.) $1 billion planned issuance of 2.9% senior notes due 2018. The transaction is expected to close on Feb. 11, 2013. The net proceeds of this offering will be used for general corporate purposes, including repayment of commercial paper and amounts owed under its term loan agreement. Pro forma financial leverage is expected to remain near 27%. On Jan. 7, 2013, Fitch affirmed all of its ratings for ING U.S. and its subsidiaries with a Stable Outlook. RATING SENSITIVITIES The key rating triggers that could result in a downgrade include: --Inability to complete an IPO as planned. This would include not being able to secure third party financing to replace the $500 million of remaining intercompany debt and the $1.275 billion bank term loan; --A decline in reported risk-based capital (RBC) below 385%; --Financial leverage exceeding 30% after the IPO; --Significant adverse operating results; --Further material reserve charges required in its insurance/variable annuity books or a significant weakening of distribution channel or scale advantages. The key rating triggers that could result in an upgrade include: --Increased operating profitability and generation of consistent statutory capital; --Sustained maintenance of GAAP interest coverage over 10x and statutory interest coverage over 4x; --A reported RBC above 450%, and financial leverage below 25%; --Private sale of closed-block book at good value with boost to capitalization and reduction in volatility and risk. Fitch expects to assign the following: ING U.S., Inc. --2.9% Senior Notes due Feb. 2018 at 'BBB-'. Fitch currently rates the ING U.S. entities as follows: ING U.S., Inc. --Long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'BBB'; --5.5% senior notes due July 15, 2022 at 'BBB-'. ING Life Insurance and Annuity Company ING USA Annuity and Life Insurance Company ReliaStar Life Insurance Co. ReliaStar Life Insurance Company of New York Security Life of Denver Insurance Company --Insurer Financial Strength (IFS) at 'A-'. Equitable of Iowa Companies, Inc. --Long-term IDR at 'BBB'. Equitable of Iowa Companies Capital Trust II --8.424% Trust Preferred Stock at 'BB'. Additional information is available at 'www.fitchratings.com'. The ratings above were solicited by, or on behalf of, the issuer, and therefore, Fitch has been compensated for the provision of the ratings. Applicable Criteria and Related Research:: --'Insurance Rating Methodology' (Jan. 11, 2013). Applicable Criteria and Related Research: Insurance Rating Methodology - Amended
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