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Possibility of rating upgrade review for Ceska


LONDON—Moody's Investors Service Ltd. has placed the Baa3 insurance financial strength rating of Ceska Pojistovna A.S., the largest insurer in the Czech Republic, under review for possible upgrade, Moody's said Monday.

The decision follows the announcement last week of a proposed joint venture with Italy's Generali Group (IFSR Aa3, Negative outlook) to create a leading Central and East European insurance group. Other factors are the improvement in Ceska's results and financial position in recent years, Moody's said.

The joint venture would combine the insurance businesses of the PPF Group N.V., including Ceska, with the CEE operations of Generali. Moody's said that the joint venture, expected to be completed by the end of 2007, "has the potential to lead to further improvements in Ceska's franchise and credit profile."

Moody's noted "the good strategic fit between Ceska's and Generali's CEE insurance operations, enabling both parties to improve access to developing markets and distribution channels, as well as creating potential for cost synergies."

Ceska, based in Prague, reported gross premiums written of 38.33 billion koruna ($1.86 billion) and shareholders' equity of 17.08 billion koruna ($830 million) as of Dec. 31, 2006. Ceska also reported its net income for 2006 increased 79% to 8.29 billion koruna ($401.3 million), Moody's said.