AXA, Alibaba, Ant Financial unveil ‘global strategic partnership’

AXA, Alibaba and Ant Financial Services have agreed to a new “global strategic partnership”, in order to “jointly explore opportunities to distribute AXA’s insurance products and services through Alibaba’s global e-commerce ecosystem”.

Under the deal, the China-based, NYSE-listed Alibaba e-commerce giant will distribute the insurance and savings products and services of Paris-based AXA, the insurer said in a statement today.

Ant Financial Services, which used to be known as Alipay, is an affiliate company of Alibaba, which operates the Alipay payment platform, as well as Ant Fortune, the Ant Financial Cloud, Sesame Credit and MYbank.

Today’s announcement of the Alibaba deal comes less than six months after it was reported that AXA would pay €75m (£57.7m, US$83.6m) for an 8% stake in a Nigeria-based, Africa-focused e-commerce business known as Africa Internet Group (AIG). As reported, that deal was expected to see the company become Africa’s first “unicorn” – that is, its first privately-held start-up company valued at more than US$1bn.

Under that deal, AXA would become the exclusive provider of insurance products and services marketed via one of AIG’s established African online retail brands, known as Jumia, AXA said   in a statement back in February.

“Going forward, AXA’s African insurance companies plan to propose custom-made insurance products to Jumia and AIG’s e-commerce client base, through its ecosystem of marketplaces and classified services,” AXA said then.

In a statement issued today, AXA said the deal with Alibaba and its Ant Financial Services affiliate would “benefit the businesses and consumers that transact via Alibaba’s marketplaces”.

The statement said the three companies will seek to work together to “co-innovate” and develop new value-added products and services for consumers around the world, while at the same time “mutually support[ing] each other”.

Thomas Buberl, deputy chairman of AXA, said forming partnerships with “forward-thinking companies” was AXA’s new strategy for making the most of business opportunities in the marketplace.

“This proposed collaboration with Alibaba could provide us with a unique global, and direct, distribution channel,” he added, “and we are looking forward to serving Alibaba’s customers and to
developing bespoke and innovative insurance products and services for them.

“Thanks to Alibaba’s unrivaled knowledge of its home market, this partnership will also help us further accelerate our development in China, where we already are the No. 1 international insurer.”

For its part, Alibaba regards its new collaboration with AXA as “a key part of Alibaba’s globalisation strategy”, Alibaba Group president Michael Evans said.

He noted that the continued rapid growth of the e-commerce marketplace meant that it was “critical” for Alibaba to evolve its services and offerings.

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