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AXA looks to Asia for growth through JVs, partnerships

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AXA looks to Asia for growth through JVs, partnerships

AXA is eyeing Asia for future growth as its local joint ventures bear fruit and the group aims to expand its footprint throughout the region, the insurer's CEO said Aug. 3.

"We are very confident that with the partnerships and joint ventures that we have established, we are going to benefit from the strong growth in Asia and have a very strong performance in this region," Thomas Buberl told journalists after publication of the insurer's first-half earnings.

Besides presence in Hong Kong and Japan, he said the group's aim was to establish partnerships with financial players throughout Asia by expanding its footprint in both life insurance and property and casualty. AXA is targeting 100 million clients in Asia by 2030, Buberl said.

Axa's joint venture partners in Asia include Krung Thai Bank PCL in Thailand, Bharti Enterprises Ltd. in India, Tian Ping Auto Insurance in China and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd.

The insurer's new business profit margin was 25% in China in the first half of the year, compared to 10% in the year-ago period, Buberl told reporters.

The Paris-based insurer reported first-half net income group share of €3.27 billion, up 2% from a restated €3.21 billion in the year-ago period. The first-half 2016 figures were restated following the reclassification of the French insurer's international insurance segment.

Total revenues were €54.28 billion, up 0.5% year over year. Revenues in the property and casualty business stood at €20.98 billion, up 1.4%, while revenues in the life and savings business amounted to €31.12 billion. Net income per share was €1.30, compared to €1.27 in the first half of 2016.

AXA is aiming to achieve €2.1 billion in cost savings by 2020, 3% to 7% average annual growth in EPS and a Solvency II ratio of between 170% and 230%. Buberl said the group was on track to meet its objectives, noting that AXA had generated €500 million in savings at June 30.

"I am very confident and I think we will reach our objective," he said. "We are working on reducing costs, and to do this we are looking at our processes."

Buberl said operations in France, Germany, Belgium and other markets had been given cost objectives to reach and that each division was working on its share of cost cuts.

He added that a plan to list a minority stake in AXA's operations in the first half of 2018 was on track and AXA would give an update later in 2017. George Stansfield, the group's general secretary, said AXA still had to determine how much of the company it will float, adding that the timing and the amount would depend on market conditions.