(Bloomberg) — Genworth Financial Inc. (NYSE:GNW) said it could pursue more divestitures to help pay down more than $500 million in debt maturing in 2018 as turmoil in the bond market shuts out junk borrowers.
“In the current environment, it would be very difficult for us to refinance the 2018 maturities, given the concerns with oil and gas and commodities” in the bond market, Chief Executive Officer Tom McInerney said in an interview Friday. “The good news is we have the luxury of time on our side for that to turn and, if not, we do have four or five avenues from an asset-sale perspective to meet that principal payment.”
Genworth was cut to junk by Standard & Poor’s in 2014 because of losses tied to long-term care insurance (LTCI) coverage. That raised borrowing costs and hurt sales of life insurance, as consumers opted for better-rated rivals. McInerney announced Thursday that he will halt life insurance and fixed-annuity sales and separate Genworth’s LTCI business. He also posted a fourth-quarter loss, capping the insurer’s second straight unprofitable year.
McInerney has sold a European mortgage insurance operation to AmTrust Financial Services Inc. to free up capital, and reached a deal in which Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co.’s Protective Life Corp. agreed to buy blocks of life insurance policies from Genworth. He said Friday that he will probably keep the Australian mortgage unit, given current market valuations and possible dividends from the business.
“There are a number of things we could consider,” McInerney said during a conference call Friday discussing fourth-quarter results. “If you look at near-term potential asset sales, it’s probably more oriented toward perhaps considering some of the blocks in life and annuity.”
The insurer agreed to sell a European lifestyle-protection unit last year and used proceeds to pay down some $298 million of debt maturing in 2016.
The cost to protect against default on Genworth debt jumped 15 basis points to 816 basis points at 11:37 a.m. in New York, according to data provider CMA, which is owned by McGraw Hill Financial Inc. and compiles prices quoted by dealers in the privately negotiated market. Genworth’s stock dropped 19 percent to $2.25 at 12:13 p.m., extending its loss for this year to 40 percent.