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Axa ups dividend as FY'17 net profit breaches €6B mark for 1st time

Axa reported a 7% year-over-year increase in full-year 2017 profit, with CEO Thomas Buberl noting that the French insurer's underlying earnings and net income both crossed the €6 billion mark for the first time in the company's history.

Full-year 2017 net income totaled €6.21 billion, or 2.49 per share, compared to the restated €5.83 billion, or €2.30 per share, earned in 2016.

Underlying earnings increased year over year to €6.00 billion from €5.69 billion. The contribution of the life and savings business stood at €3.29 billion, up 9% from 2016, while property and casualty division contributed €2.38 billion, down 1% from 2016. Asset management booked earnings of €540 million, up 32% from 2016, while the health business posted an 11% year-over-year increase in earnings to €552 million.

By location, earnings from France rose on a yearly basis to €1.43 billion from €1.39 billion, while the rest of Europe contributed €2.33 billion, up from the year-ago €2.31 billion. The U.S. business posted earnings of €1.14 billion, compared to the year-ago €998 million. The increase comes as Axa intends to launch the partial IPO of its U.S. business in the second quarter.

Axa reported an adjusted return on equity of 14.5% for 2017, compared to 13.5% in 2016.

Revenues, meanwhile, declined on a yearly basis to €98.55 billion from €100.19 billion, with total new business volume held steady at €6.5 billion, according to the company.

Axa also noted that changes in fair value and foreign exchange had an impact of €134 million on its 2017 results, up from the year-ago €118 million.

Integration and restructuring costs declined on an annual basis to €148 million from €454 million.

At the end of 2017, Axa's Solvency II ratio was 205% based on its internal model, compared to 197% at Dec. 31, 2016.

The insurer proposed a dividend of €1.26 per share for 2017, up 9% from 2016 and corresponds to a payout ratio of 49% of adjusted earnings. Pending approval at the company's April 25 annual shareholders' meeting, the dividend is expected to be paid by May 7.