S&P says U.S. bond insurers' exposure to Detroit manageable

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 23, 2013 4:55 PM

(Reuters) - Another default by bankrupt Detroit would add capital pressure to U.S. bond insurers, but Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said on Tuesday it does not currently expect such a default to lead to ratings actions on the companies.

Of the five insurers that S&P rates, those with the greatest exposure to Detroit's bonds are Assured Guaranty Ltd and National Public Finance Guarantee Corp, with $2.2 billion and $2.3 billion of net par exposure, respectively.

Even before Detroit filed for bankruptcy on Thursday, the insurers had high capital charges from exposure to Detroit's bonds. S&P had already included those charges in its latest analysis of the insurers.

Berkshire Hathaway Assurance Corp is also facing $901 million net par exposure. But that risk relates to policies in which its coverage was wrapped over another insurer, so the primary insurer would have to fail before BHAC would be required to pay, S&P noted.

Radian Asset Assurance Inc's $7.9 million of exposure to Detroit was assumed business from Assured. And Build America Mutual Assurance Co has no exposure to the insolvent city.

"At this time we do not expect a possible default by Detroit on bonds supported by insurers we currently rate to result in any rating actions," S&P said.

"However, we may need to revise our view if we believe the liquidity or capital of the bond insurers comes under stress."

(Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Tiziana Barghini and Tim Dobbyn)