French Insurer AXA Weighs Singapore Sale to Raise Cash

AXA Building
  • AXA is considering a sale of its business in Singapore as it tries to raise funds to divest peripheral operations, according to people familiar with the matter.
  • According to sources, the Singapore unit, which offers life and property and casualty insurance, could draw interest from rivals seeking to expand in Southeast Asia.
  • The sources said a sale process could begin as early as the next few weeks.
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AXA is considering a sale of its business in Singapore as it tries to raise funds to divest peripheral operations, according to people familiar with the matter.

The French insurer is working on the potential sale with an adviser, the sources said, asking not to be identified as it is a private matter.

According to sources, the Singapore unit, which offers life and property and casualty insurance, could draw interest from rivals seeking to expand in Southeast Asia. Last year, it generated revenue of €615 million, according to an annual report from AXA.

The sources said a sale process could begin as early as the next few weeks. There have been no definitive decisions, and there is no guarantee that the deliberations would result in a transaction, they added. A Paris-based AXA official declined to comment.

Last year, Bloomberg News reported that AXA and a local partner are also considering a potential sale of their life and general insurance venture in Malaysia that could raise about US$650 million.

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AXA said this month that it had terminated an agreement it had signed to sell its AXA Life Europe business to Cinven after certain conditions were not met.

Chief Executive Thomas Buberl is trying to shift AXA’s focus on property and casualty insurance after buying the XL Group in 2018 for US$15.3 billion.

Since then, Buberl has been exploring options for smaller businesses around the world to help pay for the XL deal, including in the Middle East.

AXA’s profit fell in the first half as it booked a €1.5-billion charge for COVID-19 claims. AXA warned against further shocks from the coronavirus pandemic, scrapped growth targets, and canceled shareholders’ payouts.

Deal making in the insurance sector has remained robust amid a downturn in broader mergers and acquisitions amid the pandemic.

Insurers have been involved in this year’s US$99 billion acquisitions, up 77 percent from last year’s same period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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