From: Reuters
Published January 7, 2008 05:53 PM

Buffett's insurer seeks license in Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Reuters) - Warren Buffett's new bond insurer has applied for an insurance license in Puerto Rico and was registering to do business in the commonwealth, the president of the Government Development Bank, said on Monday.

Government officials hope to approve the bid by a new unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc <BRKa.N> by month's end, Jorge Irizarry, president of the development bank, said.

The new insurer, Berkshire Hathaway Assurance Corp., received a license to operate in New York on December 28. In addition to Puerto Rico, it also expected to expand into California, Florida, Texas and Illinois, which are among the 10 largest issuers of municipal bonds.

Bond insurance is important for Puerto Rico because the commonwealth's general obligation debt is rated "Baa3" by Moody's Investors Service, a notch above junk.

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Insurance would allow Puerto Rico to reduce the perceived risk of owning its debt and cut borrowing costs because Buffett's insurer is expected to get the top "triple-A" rating.

(Reporting by John Marino and Anastasija Johnson; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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