France's Axa reveals it will float stake in US operations in 2018

 
Courtney Goldsmith
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Picture dated 12 November 1996 shows the headquart
Insurer Axa posted its first quarter results today (Source: Getty)

French insurance firm Axa has revealed plans to float a minority stake in its US operations in the first half of 2018.

The move is part of a company overhaul, bringing Axa "significant additional financial flexibility" while reducing exposure to financial risks and strengthening its economic capital position.

Chief executive Thomas Buberl said the decision is a key step towards its 2020 objectives.

Buberl said: "We believe the current environment is supportive of this strategic initiative which would create significant additional financial flexibility to accelerate the transformation of the Axa Group around health, capital-light savings, protection and property and casualty commercial lines, our priority lines of business.

"At the same time, we are convinced our US operations would be better positioned as a listed company in the US, operating on a level-playing field under local regulatory rules, and would benefit from greater strategic flexibility to deliver sustainable and profitable growth."

To enhance the capitalisation of its US operations ahead of the initial public offer, Axa will convert about $1bn (£771m) of outstanding debt owed by Axa US into equity.

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

First quarter revenue edges down

France's largest insurer made the announcement as part of its first quarter results.

Revenues edged down 0.1 per cent from the previous year to €31.6bn (£26.57bn) due to stronger property and casualty premiums offsetting a weaker performance at the company's life insurance arm.

Asset management net inflows amounted to €3bn driven by Axa Investment Management.

Axa said its balance sheet strength was highlighted by a Solvency II ratio at 196 per cent, well within its target range.

Read more: Axa is prepping for Frexit and ready to turn down deals

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