AXA's U.S. insurance, asset management unit files for IPO

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. unit of the French insurer AXA has filed for an initial public offering (IPO), according to a U.S. regulatory filing on Monday.

The listed company, AXA Equitable Holdings, would have more than $600 billion of assets under management which will come from two existing American channels, AXA Equitable Life and AllianceBernstein, according to the S-1 document published on the website of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

AXA currently holds approximately 63 percent of AllianceBernstein across three entities, ownership of which will be transferred into AXA Equitable Holdings prior to the initial public offering.

No valuation for the new business, in which AXA will retain a majority position after the flotation, was given in the document, but a source familiar with the matter said it could be close to 13 billion euros ($15.16 billion).

AXA Chief Executive Thomas Buberl outlined plans in May to overhaul the group’s U.S. operations ahead of a spin-off IPO in 2018, in order to free up capital and pursue takeover targets elsewhere.

JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley have been chosen to coordinate the IPO, the document said. A number of other banks will assist as bookrunners on the deal, bankers aware of the matter said.

As part of the reorganization process ahead of the IPO, AXA’s U.S. property and casualty business would be transferred to the parent firm. Reinsurance currently in place for AXA Equitable Life would also be unwound, the document added.

Total pro forma revenue of AXA Equitable Holdings in the six months to June 30 was $6.99 billion, according to the SEC filing.

A number of insurance companies have spun off their U.S. life insurance businesses, or are considering such an action, as the low interest rate environment continues to stymie growth in the sector.

In August, Metlife split off its U.S. retail business, Brighthouse Financial, and distributed shares in the company to its own shareholders. The Chief Executive of Canadian insurer Manulife Financial Corp said last week that it was considering “all options” for its John Hancock unit.

Reporting by David French; editing by Diane Craft

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