Insurance Group’s financial strength rating and issuer credit rating has been affirmed ‘A+’ by Standard & Poor’s but the outlook remains negative.
S&P’s attributed the negative outlook to the prospect for further adverse volatility in QBE
's North American operations and uncertainty over the extent of any additional reserve strengthening over the short term.
The ‘A+’ rating affirmations are based on S&P’s view of the group's "very strong" business risk profile, "moderately strong" financial profile, and "strong" enterprise risk management.
Standard & Poor's credit analyst Mark Legge said: “We believe QBE
has a very strong competitive position, primarily reflecting the group's geographic and product diversity. The group's market position is strong via its material commercial market share in Australia, where it is a price leader, and its position in the Lloyd’s market.”
Legge added: "While QBE
's recent operating performance has been poor, our expectations are that performance will rebound in 2014, and that such improvement will be maintained over coming years at a level in line with peers. Our expectations are based on management initiatives, resulting in an anticipated rebound in earnings from QBE
's North American businesses, continued favourable performance of its Australian and New Zealand businesses, and solid results from its European business, despite a challenging pricing environment."