Cinven to acquire Axa Life Europe in €1.2bn deal

Private equity firm Cinven has entered into exclusive talks to acquire Dublin-headquartered insurer Axa Life Europe (ALE) in a €1.2bn deal.

Axa Life Europe, one of the largest cross-border life assurance centres in Europe, manages insurance products for customers across, Germany, the UK, France, Spain, Italy and Portugal. Axa Life Europe is part of France-based Axa group.

The sale will net Axa €925m in cash from the sale of ALE shares, plus €240m in a capital distribution from ALE to Axa.

Axa said ALE was based in Dublin and managed a portfolio of around 248,000 insurance contracts, the majority of which are in Germany. It had some €5bn euros in reserves and has been closed to new business since 2017.

The deal represents the 12th investment made by the Cinven Fund and follows on from a recent agreement to acquire Viridium Group and to provide it with equity funding to acquire Generali Leben, to create a German life insurance business with five million policies and €55bn of assets under management.

Caspar Berendsen, a partner at Cinven said the company had “ambitious plans” for ALE.

“This transaction represents another important step towards improving the balance between technical and financial margin, in line with our Ambition 2020 ‘Focus and Transform’ strategy,” Gerald Harlin, deputy chief executive of Axa Group, said in a statement.

The deal is subject to customary conditions and is expected to be finalised by the end of 2018 or early 2019.

Private equity companies have been targeting European life insurance businesses. This year alone, Cinven, in combination with Hannover Re, has bought a German life insurance portfolio from Generali, while Apollo-owned Athora has bought businesses in Ireland and Belgium.

Carlyle said it was taking a 19.9% stake in AIG unit DSA.

Pedro Gonçalves
Pedro Gonçalves is Financial Correspondent at International Investment.

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