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Fitch upgrades Irish Life to AA- reflecting strong market position

Irish Life, has welcomed the decision by Fitch Ratings to upgrade Irish Life Assurance plc (Irish Life) one notch, to AA- from A+.

The upgrade of Irish Life's rating reflects Fitch's view that Irish Life has become 'very important' to its parent company, Great-West Lifeco Inc. Previously, Fitch viewed Irish Life as being 'important' to its owner. Great-West Lifeco’s ownership of Irish Life has resulted in a two-notch uplift in Irish Life's IFS rating to AA- from its stand-alone assessment of A.

Commenting on the upgrade, Bill Kyle, CEO of Irish Life Group said: “We are pleased that Fitch recognised the progress made in recent months and in particular has noted that the upgrade reflects Irish Life’s strong standalone capitalisation, comparatively low-risk business and strong market position.”

Fitch also noted that Great-West Lifeco's acquisition of Irish Life has been well managed and has provided the company with critical scale in the Irish market as well as operational synergies and expense savings. The acquisition has moved Irish Life to the top position in Ireland with a market share greater than 30%.

Irish Life contributed CAD191 million to Great-West Lifeco's net earnings in the first nine months of 2014. Fitch commented that any execution risk had been mitigated in part by Great-West Lifeco's existing knowledge of the Irish market and by its track record of supplementing growth through acquisitions.