In the wake of rumors that XL Capital Ltd. is up for sale–with the company admitting only to exploring “value-enhancing opportunities available to it”–Standard & Poor’s lowered ratings on the firm’s core operating companies, citing the Bermuda insurer’s diminished underwriting performance and competitive position.

An outright denial of a potential sale was not part of the company’s vaguely worded announcement, which noted that while not typically responding to rumors, XL felt it was appropriate under “the current circumstances.”

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