AXA is a French global insurance companies group headquartered in Paris and founded in 1985 by Claude Bébéar. AXA is not the name of a single company but a group of companies independently organized and operated according to the regulations of many different countries.
The AXA group of companies are engaged in life, health and other forms of insurance, as well as investment management. The AXA group operates primarily in Western Europe, North America and the Asia Pacific region and the Middle East.
There are five operating business segments with the AXA group of companies: Life & Savings, Property & Casualty, International Insurance (including reinsurance), Asset Management and Other Financial Services.
The combined group has 189,000 employees and US$122 billion of revenues in 2004. AXA ranks as the 15th largest company in the world (based on revenues) on the 2006 Fortune Global 500 list.
The AXA name
Despite always being written in upper case, "AXA" is not an acronym
, but was chosen because its name can be pronounced easily by people who speak any language. After acquiring the Drouot Group in 1982, the company hired an outside consultant to conduct a computer-aided search for a new name. The selection criteria consisted of a short and snappy name to convey vitality, a name that begins with the letter A so that it would appear near the top of all lists, and something that could be pronounced easily in every language, consistent with the group's desire for an international presence. In 1985, Chairman and CEO Claude Bebear chose the name AXA.
Originally named Ancienne Mutuelle, the firm renamed itself Mutuelles Unies after acquiring another insurer, Compagnie Parisienne de Garantie, in 1978
. When AXA acquired UAP, France's top insurer, in 1996, the combined firm was known for a time as AXA-UAP
, before reverting.
On 14 June 2006, AXA acquired the leading Swiss insurance company Winterthur Group from Credit Suisse for approximately €9 billion.
AXA in the United Kingdom
AXA trades in the United Kingdom as AXA Sun Life
, AXA Insurance
, AXA Investment Managers
and AXA PPP Healthcare
. AXA PPP Healthcare was created when AXA bought Guardian Royal Exchange (GRE), though it subsequently sold the other parts of GRE.
AXA run its investment branch through AXA Investment Managers (IM).
was created to help travelers who need a visa and a travel insurance to enter the Schengen
area. It is the only product of the AXA Group that is sold directly to consumers and on the internet.
AXA Isle of Man
AXA Isle of Man Limited
was originally created as a subsidiary of AXA Sun Life in the United Kingdom, but since the Isle of Man is not a part of the United Kingdom it is regulated instead by the laws of the Isle of Man.
Unlike the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man does not require the same access to liquidity of funds in case the company runs into problems. AXA Isle of Man Limited advertises itself as a repository for citizens of the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands who seek to shelter their assets from high taxation.
While the company trades upon the AXA logo and name and group advertising which promotes the total wealth of the group, the assets of the Isle of Man company are limited to those of the Isle of Man company itself, and this poses some risk since the island has its own police and governmental regulatory agencies. Relationship with the United Kingdom is primarily restricted to foreign affairs.
AXA Sun Life
AXA Sun Life was created following the merger between AXA Equity & Law and Sun Life Assurance Society PLC. In 2006 Winterthur Life in the UK was absorbed although AXA continue to use the Winterthur brand for high net worth wealth management business. In January 2007 AXA Sun Life was reorganised into "strategic business units" (SBU's) aimed at competing within their specific markets.
The business units are:
- Wealth Management - AXA + Winterthur's Bonds + Individual Pensions
- Corporate Business - AXA + Winterthur's Group Pensions. AXA intend to create a "Market Leading" group pension proposition using Winterthur's 'Embassy' IT platform.
- Protection - This SBU will aim to market AXA's Protection Account as AXA continues to build on its presence in this area with the intention of becoming a leading protection provider.
- Traditional Business - Concentrating on policies which are still in force but no longer actively marketed.
- AXA Distribution Services - This business unit will soon unveil a wrap proposition
- Advisory Services - This SBU consists solely of Thinc Group at present. Originally it was intended that AXA's tied distribution arm would also report into this SBU until it was recently incorporated into Thinc Group.
AXA in the United States
The United States arm of AXA is AXA Financial. AXA Financial consists of many subsidiaries; AXA Advisors, LLC, AXA Network, AXA Equitable Life Insurance, Mutual of New York (MONY) (famous for the song "Mony Mony" that the logo on its building inspired), US Financial Life, and AllianceBernstein.
On December 15 of 2006, AXA Advisors, LLC entered into agreements with LPL (Linsco Private Ledger), the country's largest independent broker-dealer. LPL agreed to provide brokerage, clearing and custody services on a fully-disclosed basis. The terms of the agreements are five years, subject to additional 24-month extensions. Services are expected to begin in August 2007.
AXA in Asia Pacific
AXA Life Insurance operates in the Asia Pacific region as AXA Asia Pacific Holdings Ltd. (AXA APH) which is the former National Mutual Life Association of Australasia, and is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange. The head office of AXA APH is located in Melbourne, Australia, and there is a major regional office in Hong Kong. As well as a strong presence in Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand, AXA is expanding its operations in Singapore, China, India, Korea (under partnership with Kyobo Life) Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia.
AXA General Insurance operates in the Asia Pacific region as AXA Asia P&C. The head-office of AXA Asia P&C is located in Singapore.
AXA has entered into India through Bharti Enterprises as JV Bharti AXA Life Insurance Company Ltd in 2006, and is present in fusion with OYAK, as AXA OYAK, in the Turkish market since 1999.
- Mutuelles Axa - 14.48 %
- Employees - 5.23 %
- Axa (own shares) - 1.49 %