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Canada Pension Plan Investment Board bets on Axa Equitable in Q2

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board purchased 14 million shares of Axa Equitable Holdings Inc. valued at $288.5 million during the second quarter, according to its most recent 13F-HR filing.

Shares of Axa Equitable began trading on the New York Stock Exchange after its May 9 initial public offering. The company, which remains majority-owned by France's Axa, floated 137.25 million common shares at $20 per share, below the expected range of $24 to $27.

The shares had risen to $20.61 by the end of the second quarter, a gain of almost 3%, and closed Aug. 14 at $21.87. CPPIB disclosed a stake of 2.5% in Axa Equitable, making it the third-largest institutional owner of the life insurer.

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CPPIB lowered its stake in most of its other insurance underwriter holdings during the quarter. It sold 489,400 shares of Prudential Financial Inc. and 320,230 shares of Chubb Ltd., whose shares fell 9.7% and 7.1%, respectively, during the period. CPPIB also cut its holdings of Anthem Inc. by more than 40% during the quarter, leaving it with 391,590 shares valued at $93.2 million.

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Meanwhile, CPPIB nearly doubled its holding in financial technology company Palo Alto Networks Inc., adding 670,016 shares to give it a 1.57% stake valued at just over $300 million. On the flip side, CPPIB reduced its stake in a trio of major U.S. banks, Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

CPPIB's portfolio was valued at $52.08 billion as of June 30, with more than 1,200 positions across different industries, down $7.26 billion compared to March 31.

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