Major fallers across the continent (NOT just the banking sector):
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and BlackRock have expressed interest in buying Axa Private Equity, the French alternative asset manager that has been put up for sale by Axa, the French insurer, the FT says, citing people close to the situation. The two US asset managers are among a handful of potential bidders that have been asked to submit first-round offers for the private equity group early next week. The private equity group’s management and Axa, its parent company, have preselected potential bidders in the past few weeks, they added. Dominique Senequier, the well respected French manager who started Axa Private Equity 15 years ago, is seen as the linchpin for any deal. Read more
ING is selling its stake in Brazil’s insurance group SulAmerica in a deal that is likely to be worth at least $1bn, sparking a fierce bidding war in the fast-growing Brazilian market, the FT says, citing people close to the transaction. French insurer Axa and Japan’s Tokio Marine have so far emerged as the top bidders for ING’s 36 per cent stake in SulAmerica, Brazil’s biggest standalone insurance group, said one of the people. ING declined to discuss details of the deal but said the sale of its Brazilian assets was in line with its plan to divest the group’s insurance operations by 2013. Axa and SulAmerica declined to comment and Japan’s Tokio Marine could not be reached for comment. ING’s stake in SulAmerica, which is worth about R$1.5bn ($833m) but has already fetched bids at a premium, would also give the buyer a 45 per cent stake in Sulaspar, the controlling group, mostly made up of the powerful Larragoiti family. Read more
Many ways to fudge them too.
Compare and contrast… Read more
Europe’s biggest fallers at pixel time (via Reuters). Notice a trend?
Breaking pre-market news on Wednesday,
- Schneider Electric to acquire Spain’s Telvent for $2bn or $40 per share — statement. Read more
PAI Partners has agreed to sell its Spie electrical and mechanical engineering company to a consortium led by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice in a €2.1bn ($3bn) deal, as the French private equity group continues its push to sell off companies ahead of a possible fundraising next year, reports the FT. The sale is PAI’s fifth disposal this year and highlights a comeback for continental Europe’s biggest buy-out group after it was forced to shrink its fund less than two years ago. A string of divestments, including Spie, Italy’s Gruppo Coin clothing retailer and the UK’s Kwik-Fit chain of motor servicing centres, allowed PAI to return €3bn to investors in the past 12 months. A trio of CD&R, France’s Axa Private Equity and Canada’s Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec pre-empted a formal sales process for Spie, one of Europe’s largest electrical services companies. PAI’s advisory banks, Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas and Société Générale, had been planning a parallel sales auction and preparation for a possible listing of the French group. Read more
Axa is finally set to take full control of its pan-Asian business almost 18 months after raising €2bn ($2.8bn) through a rights issue to help pay for the deal, which will also see the French insurer sell its Australia and New Zealand businesses to AMP of Australia, reports the FT. The deal, which involves a joint bid from Axa and AMP for the 46% of Axa APH that the French group does not own and then splitting the business between them, was delayed because an initial proposal involving NAB was blocked by Australian regulators. The deal values the Asian businesses of Axa APH at A$9.8bn, or €6.98bn, more than twice the €3.45bn embedded value – a key insurance measure of future profitability – reported by those units in 2010. Read more
Breaking pre-market news on Thursday,
- BNP Paribas reports Q4 results; takes €534m hit on value of stake in Axa — statement. Read more
Permira and Axa Private Equity plan to make a joint €500m ($681m) bid for Opodo on Tuesday, in a push to build a European rival in the online travel market to Expedia and Orbitz of the US, reports the FT. The two buy-out groups are likely to face competition for Opodo from rival US group Carlyle, which owns Orizonia, the Spanish tour operator. But people familiar with the auction said Permira and Axa were favourites. Before teaming up for the Opodo bid, Permira and Axa had vied for mid-sized European internet travel agencies. Axa outbid Permira to buy Go Voyages for €300m-€350m last year, and shortly after, Permira beat Axa to buy eDreams, the Spain-based online travel group, for €250m-€300m. The duo now wants to merge Opodo with eDreams and Go Voyages. Expedia had eyed Opodo but is unlikely to meet Tuesday’s bid deadline. Read more
Axa Real Estate, an arm of French insurer Axa, will invest up to €1.5bn (£1.29bn) from insurance activities into the provision of senior debt to commercial real estate, reports the FT. Aiming to exploit the retreat of banks and other debt providers from property lending, ARE has raised €350m for its first dedicated debt fund from European insurance companies as well as its parent insurance group, and plans to increase this to €1bn in more fundraising this year. Separately from the fund, the group has additional equity commitments from insurance companies of more than €1.15bn, taking its war chest to invest in real estate debt to almost €1.5bn. Read more
Axa on Tuesday said it was “confident” about prospects for its new, A$13.3bn ($13.1bn) joint bid with AMP, the Australian financial services group, for the French insurer’s Asia-Pacific business, as it announced €1.5bn ($2bn) of cost savings by 2015, reports the FT. It is the fourth time Axa has tried to buy out Axa Asia-Pacific, the Australia-listed wealth manager, in which it holds a 54% stake. In a Tuesday presentation to investors, Denis Duverne, Axa’s deputy chief executive, said the company was “optimistic” about the bid, launched on Monday. Read more
At long last. The interminable — and fiendishly complicated — saga of the battle for Axa Asia Pacific Holdings (Axa APH) is approaching a finale. Or so it seems.
As Reuters reports on Monday: Read more
Breaking pre-market news on Monday,
- AXA and AMP join forces to make $13.1bn offer for AXA Asia Pacific Holdings — statement. Read more
October may be over, but it will go down in covered bond history (ahem) as the month which saw the debut of not one, but two covered bonds backed by RMBS.
That’s a debt security backed by Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities. Read more
Some of the world’s largest investment groups have backed the UK’s first formalised code of shareholder responsibility, in what regulators see as a vital step in reforming corporate governance, reports the FT. The UK’s Financial Reporting Council will on Tuesday release a list of 68 top institutions that have submitted to the Stewardship Code, a set of seven principles aimed at encouraging greater scrutiny of companies by their investors. Alongside 48 asset managers backing the new code, including BlackRock, Axa and Capital International, Calpers, the Californian state pension fund, has written a letter supporting the code, which all UK-regulated institutional investors will be expected to adhere to. Read more
AIA has struck a distribution deal with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the country’s biggest lender by market value, as the Asian arm of AIG moves to consolidate its position as the leading foreign life assurer in China, reports the FT. The bancassurance agreement, which was signed this week and could be announced as soon as Friday, comes as AIA is pressing on swiftly with plans to float on the Hong Kong stock exchange by the end of November. It’s a rare spot of good news for foreign insurers looking to break into Asia — AXA’s bid to gain total control of its Asian business is stuck in limbo, says the WSJ. Read more
National Australia Bank’s planned A$13.3bn ($12.2bn) takeover of asset manager Axa Asia Pacific Holdings was on Thursday blocked a second time by Australia’s competition regulator, clearing the way for AMP to renew its challenge, reports Bloomberg. NAB’s plan to overcome competition concerns by selling Axa APH’s North investment platform, an online portal overseeing A$1.4bn of funds, wasn’t enough, the ACCC said, after first barring the agreed deal April 19. The Australian newspaper warns that with its decision, the regulator has further toughened the barrier to big-bank acquisitions in Australia. Read more
Axa, Goldman Sachs’ largest investor, slashed its stake by more than half in the last quarter as the bank contended with civil fraud charges and brutal market conditions that crimped its results, the FT reports. The French insurer and wealth management company halved its holdings from 5 per cent to 2.1 per cent in the three-month period ending June 30. Goldman’s share price lost 23 per cent during the period after the SEC brought charges against the bank over CDO dealings during the crisis. While Goldman’s stock recovered in the third quarter following a settlement with the SEC, it has since shed 3 per cent. Axa’s move is part of a wider strategy of reshuffling its financial services holdings, with stakes in Wells Fargo and Bank of America increasing. Read more
Axa, the French insurer that is Goldman Sachs’ top investor, slashed its stake by more than half in the last quarter as the US bank grappled with civil fraud charges by US regulators and market conditions that crimped its results, reports the FT. Axa reduced its holdings in Goldman by more than 16m shares, from about 5% to 2.1%, in the quarter to June 30, according to a recent US filing. Goldman’s shares fell 23% in the quarter. Axa’s sell-off appears part of a larger strategy to reshuffle its financial services holdings, the FT adds. Read more
Resolution has clinched its £2.75bn deal to buy most of Axa’s UK life assurance operations in a deal that takes the group another step along its path to create a £10bn life and pensions company, the FT reports. Resolution said on Thursday that its shareholders had unusually pre-committed to take up 52 per cent of the £2bn rights issue being used to fund the deal before the final terms of the takeover were announced. Read more
Breaking pre-market news on Thursday,
- Resolution agrees to buy Axa’s UK life business for up to £2.25bn; to launch £2bn rights issue – statement. Read more
Insurers Resolution and Axa hope to agree the £2.8bn sale of a chunk of the French group’s UK life assurance business by mid-next week, the FT reports. The two companies on Monday confirmed talks and gave details on the price and financial structure of the proposed sale, although they said there was no certainty of a final agreement. Lex says the deal seems to offer “jam tomorrow for Resolution’s investors, but today for Axa’s”. Read more
Clive Cowdery is back in the limelight, as the insurance entrepreneur’s Resolution Group confirmed talks to buy part of Axa’s UK business for about £2.8bn.
Resolution shares have been suspended from trading on the London Stock Exchange on Monday ahead of a more detailed announcement, following the group’s statement, as follows (our emphasis): Read more
Breaking pre-market news on Monday,
- BP captures 15,000 barrels of oil from Gulf of Mexico spill – statement. Read more
National Australia Bank has agreed to buy Axa’s majority-owned Asia Pacific arm for A$13.3bn (US$12.2bn) and sell the non-Australasian assets back to the French insurer. The agreement between the French group and Australia’s largest lender follows a three-month battle for Axa Asia Pacific, Australia’s largest life and savings business, the FT said. Read more
Spotless, the French maker of laundry and cleaning products, has been bought by BC Partners, the UK buy-out group, in a deal valuing the company at about €600m. Axa Private Equity, which built Spotless up through six add-on acquisitions over five years, has more than doubled its initial equity investment by selling its 65.6% stake to BC Partners. Other minority shareholders, including Italy’s Gaulandi family and European Capital, are also selling their stakes. Read more
Spotless, the French maker of laundry and cleaning products, could become the latest “pass-the-parcel” deal between private equity groups, after Axa Private Equity put it up for sale with a €600m-€700m price tag after withdrawing the company from sale two years ago amid the financial crisis. Several buy-out groups including Bridgepoint, BC Partners and Lion Capital are planning to bid by March in an auction being run by Lazard. Read more
The private equity unit of Goldman Sachs has emerged as a top contender for a minority stake in Taikang Life, a Chinese life assurer being sold by French insurer Axa. Goldman’s principal investment arm is understood to be in talks to acquire some, or all, of Axa’s 15.6% stake in Taikang. The Government of Singapore Investment Corp, the sovereign wealth fund, which holds 8% of Taikang Life, is also considering raising its stake. Read more
Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan and RBS have linked up with Axa, Legal & General, Edi Truell’s Pension Corp, Prudential, and Swiss Re in a push to create a tradeable, liquid market in longevity and mortality risks. The move, the first major co-operative step to set up standardised products, comes as UK pension schemes focus on the risk that they will pay pensions to retirees for far longer than they have assumed. Read more