No more deals: Axa to decline future acquisitions after blasting through the €100bn barrier

Oliver Gill
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Thanks but no thanks: We're big enough already, Axa said (Source: Getty)

France's largest insurer Axa is big enough and is not eyeing any future transactions, especially as "Frexit is a probability", its chief executive said today.

Passing the €100bn (£84bn) revenue barrier for the first time, Axa revealed in its annual results underlying growth of in earnings of four per cent to €5.7bn.

Read more: Axa UK's chief executive: Our future is driverless – we must act now

Axa's share price is down around five per cent since the start of 2017, with markets worried that Front National leader Marine Le Pen may win France's presidential election in April.

According to Reuters, chief executive Thomas Buberl said:

Frexit is a probability, it is clear, we need to look at it. Our job is to manage risks and volatility. A potential Frexit is not the first surprise and not the first crisis that AXA has seen over its history.

According to a BVA-Salesforce poll released today Le Pen is expected to attract the most votes in the first round of voting, but they indicate she would be overtaken by independent candidate Emmanuel Macron in the second round.

And Buberi said he did think the probability of Le Pen prevailing was not very high.

Italian job

Italy's largest insurer Generali is being targeted by lender Intesa Sanpaolo in a deal that would be one the insurance sector's largest ever takeovers.

Axa was one party previously reported to be interested in Generali, but Buberi said a deal of this size – Generali has a market cap of €24bn – would likely now be out of the question.

He said: "Axa has done many large acquisitions and the aim has been to reach a critical size globally. We reached it now and for our acquisitions' strategy, this excludes small and really large acquisitions."

Read more: Axa takes multi-million euro loss from Bluefin sale to Marsh

Meanwhile earnings in the UK division of Axa jumped 12 per cent to £263m. Chief executive of UK and Ireland, Amanda Blanc said: "The turnaround of this business is not only complete, but one year on, the business continues on the right trajectory."

"However, it is clear that the uncertainty in financial markets and the wider economy continues and we must be vigilant to the consequent risks and ready to react to the opportunities that arise."

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