Better margins help AXA to advance 33%

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The Independent Online
AXA, the French insurance company that owns the British life insurer AXA Equity & Law, yesterday reported a 33 per cent rise in its annual net profits to Fr2.7bn ( pounds 313.6m), writes Paul Durman.

The results received a boost from The Equitable, the American insurer where AXA took a 49 per cent stake in 1992. As well as a recovery in its insurance business, The Equitable's investment management arm turned in an excellent performance, AXA said.

The group also benefited from better underwriting margins in France, and reduced losses from the UK marine and aviation insurance business. However, better profits from French non-life insurance were more than offset by the reduced capital gains made by the life business.

Total revenues rose by 49 per cent to Fr126bn ( pounds 14.6bn), with Fr94bn coming from insurance. This reflected the inclusion of The Equitable for a full year for the first time. The underlying growth in insurance income grew by 8.7 per cent.

AXA, which is headed by Claude Bebear, reiterated its ambition to expand its insurance business in South-east Asia.

The group expects trading conditions to continue to improve in France and the rest of Europe.