AXA French insurer to list part of US operations in New York

AXA called the listing of a minority stake in its US operations, subject to market conditions.

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French insurer AXA plans to list part of its US operations on the New York stock exchange play

French insurer AXA plans to list part of its US operations on the New York stock exchange

(AFP)
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French insurer AXA said Wednesday it plans to list part of its US operations in New York next year, reinvesting or potentially returning the funds to shareholders.

AXA called the listing of a minority stake in its US operations, subject to market conditions, a "strategic decision to create significant additional financial flexibility".

It said its US activities, which include life insurance and annuity operations plus a 64-percent stake in AllianceBernstein (AB), a leading asset management firm with nearly $500 billion (460 billion euros) of funds under management, would benefit from additional flexibility, visibility and stronger growth prospects as a listed company.

It said to strengthen the capital of its US operations before the IPO about $1.0 billion of debt that AXA US owes to the parent company will be converted into equity.

The funds raised by the IPO may by "reinvested in our target segments notably by acquisitions and/or potentially returned to shareholders depending on opportunities and market conditions," AXA's chief financial officer said Gerald Harlin in a conference call.

Under its strategic plan adopted last year, AXA is targeting growth in the corporate insurance, life, and health insurance segments, plus expanding in Asia. It plans to invest some three billion euros by 2020 to develop its businesses.

Harlin reaffirmed AXA's objective of increasing operating profit per share by three-to-seven percent per year on average through 2020.

Investors appeared to welcome the IPO plans, with AXA shares rising more than 2.1 percent in Paris in early morning trading, while the CAC 40 index dipped 0.17 percent overall.

The company also released some first-quarter figures on Wednesday.

Revenue dipped 0.1 percent to 31.6 billion euros, which missed the 32.6 billion consensus estimate of analysts surveyed by financial information supplier Factset.

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