Axa unveils business transformation plan

Added 21st June 2016

French insurance giant Axa has unveiled a five-year strategic plan aimed at transforming the company’s business model from “payer to partner”.

Axa unveils business transformation plan

Incoming chief executive Thomas Buberl revealed the new strategy, dubbed Ambition 2020, in Paris on Tuesday. He said the company would target €2.1bn (£1.6bn, $2.4bn) in pre-tax cost savings by 2020.

It also aimed to increase underlying earnings per share by between 3% and 7% over the next five years, down from a target of 5% to 10% over its previous five-year plan.

“The first pillar of our strategy is about taking actions today to ensure we deliver what our stakeholders expect from us,” Buberl said.

“We will further grow our operations in selected areas, such as commercial lines, capital light savings products and in Asia, leveraging our strengths and best practices. We will also continue to improve our cost efficiency and technical margins,” he added.

New structure

Last month Buberl unveiled his new corporate structure which divided the company into four business units - Asset Management, Health, Life & Savings and Property & Casualty.

When he formally takes on the chief executive role in September from Henri de Castries, who led Axa for 17 years, Buberl will also head a newly-appointed 10-strong management committee which contains only three former members.

Innovation drive 

On Tuesday, Buberl said his plan to transform the company from “payer to partner” meant accelerating business innovation to meet the rapidly evolving needs of customers in the digital world, and developing areas such as prevention and care more.

“The success of this transformation will be based on the engagement and energy of our employees, agents and partners, adapting their capabilities to best serve our customers,” he said.

Among the other objective Buberl announced in the new five-year plan were: 

  • A forecast 12% to 14% return on equity over the five-year period,, compared with a 13% to 15% target in the previous plan,
  • A cumulative €28-32bn of group operating free cash flows from 2016 to 2020; and
  • A Solvency II ratio target range between 170% and 230%.

“These initiatives will position Axa to grow earnings and increase dividends, even in a context of continued low interest rates,” he said.

Capital light products

Paul Evans, who becomes chief executive of Axa Global Life & Savings and of Axa Global Health from July 1 said: “In Life & Savings, the objective is to overcome the headwinds to growth from low interest rates and build on the successful transformation of our business mix already achieved in mature markets.

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Richard Hubbard

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Richard Hubbard is the group editor at Last Word. He is responsible for the editorial content of International Adviser, Portfolio Adviser, Expert Investor and Fund Selector Asia. Richard previously worked for Thomson Reuters and has covered the financial services industry and investment themes from its offices in London, Singapore, Hong Kong and New York. Richard started his career at the Australian Financial Review in Sydney.

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