Ambac In Talks to Capitalize Connie Lee

Nothing new and the plan may not go anywhere but Ambac said that it in talks with the Wisconsin regulator to capitalize Connie Lee as a fully-functioning financial guarantor. Connie Lee, once upon a time known as College Construction Loan Insurance Association and was a student bond insurer created by the government somewhat similar to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (right now it is simply a privately-owned shell company), has been dormant for ages.

Ambac Financial Group, Inc. today announced that it has had positive discussions with the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance for the State of Wisconsin (OCI) regarding a plan to capitalize its Connie Lee subsidiary with an $850 million contribution of capital by Ambac Assurance Corporation (AAC).

Ambac intends to seek formal approval from the OCI for capitalization of Connie Lee and believes that it will obtain OCI’s approval of the plan. A contribution of capital of $850 million to Connie Lee would bring Connie Lee’s total capital to slightly over $1.0 billion. The new capital will support the claims paying resources for Connie Lee’s financial guarantee business, which will focus solely on U.S. public finance and global infrastructure transactions. Ambac has been in communication with Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s in pursuit of Aaa/AAA ratings for Connie Lee.

Ambac President and Chief Executive Officer, Michael Callen, stated, “Connie Lee is a licensed financial guarantee company, with access to more than 37 years of industry-leading experience in the municipal bond guarantee industry and as such, we expect that it will be received favorably by the market as it will provide much needed capacity and execution capability.” Mr. Callen added, “I am confident that the management team of Connie Lee, which will be primarily assembled from within AAC’s Public Finance division, will have a level of experience unrivaled in the industry.”

Although not disclosed by Ambac, Connie Lee will likely be a subsidiary of Ambac Assurance rather than the holding company. Who knows if this plan can be completed successfully but assuming it is completed, I would prefer if Connie Lee attempts to insure global infrastructure bonds rather than US "municipal" bonds. Generating any business with Connie Lee will be tough, given the uncertainty surronding Ambac, but competition has declined signficantly (FGIC, XLCA, SCA and CIFG are out of the market right now, while BHAC, Assured Guaranty and FSA are the only ones able to do anything).


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