Axa carried by the good health of its division XL

Revenues of the French insurance group grew by 4% in the first half of the year and operating income rose sharply by 7%. The insurer is driven by the good health of the business resulting from the acquisition of XL, specialized in the damage insurance of large companies. In France, the impact of the movement of yellow vests would be less than 20 million euros.

"The first half of 2019 proves the relevance of Axa's strategy and its rigorous implementation. We are well on our way towards the objectives of the ambition 2020 plan, "said Thomas Buberl, CEO of Axa, during a press conference on the occasion of the publication of the half-yearly results on Thursday 1 August.

In the first six months of the year, the insurer recorded revenue up 4%, at constant scope and exchange rates, to 57.9 billion euros.

"This growth is driven by our target segments [business casualty, foresight and health, ed] and has been profitable," said the boss of the French insurer.

The operating result stands at 3.62 billion euros, up 7%.closevolume_off

The action Axa wins more than 1% Thursday early afternoon, signing the fourth largest increase in the CAC 40. It has increased more than 22% since the beginning of the year.

Profitable growth

"Our transformation is in favor of profitability. Our combined ratios are at good levels, " added Thomas Buberl. As a profitability indicator, the combined ratio refers to the ratio between what an insurer disburses (claims paid to policyholders, commissions paid to networks, overheads) and what it collects (premiums paid by policyholders). The lower the ratio, the better the technical result.

This good performance can be explained in particular by the excellent results of Axa XL, which contributed 502 million euros in operating income and whose sales jumped 9%. Axa confirms its ambition for this division and aims to generate operating income of € 1.4 billion in 2020.

Redeemed in May 2018 for 12.4 billion euros by the French insurer , XL is specialized in complex risks for large companies. This mega-acquisition has enabled Axa to become the world leader in corporate casualty insurance in terms of premiums. Prior to this operation, the French insurer was predominantly present on life, savings and retirement.

Axa's commercial property and casualty business is up 6%  "Today, this segment accounts for 32% of the group's revenues. This shows how the acquisition of XL has accelerated the transformation of our business mix, " said Thomas Buberl.

A net result penalized by accounting expenses

The number two insurance company in Europe, after the German Allianz, nevertheless achieved a net profit of 2.33 billion euros, down 19% year on year. This decline is due to two technical factors, the insurer says: the unfavorable change in derivatives and the impact of the deconsolidation of its US subsidiary Axa Equitable Holdings. The group has floated the company on which it now holds 38.9% of the capital. The French insurer plans to get rid of it entirely.

"This decrease is the result of the application of accounting rules. These elements have no impact on the cash flow or the dividend, " said Gérald Harlin, the group's CFO.

Yellow vests: an impact of less than 20 million euros

On the French market, the insurer also performed well with sales up 3%. It is driven by healthcare activities with a 6% increase in revenues in this segment, while business property and casualty insurance is stagnating. In France, the operating income increased by 7%.

In France, the movement of "yellow vests" impacted two years of the insurer: that of 2018 and that of 2019.

"We estimate that the overall impact over the two years is less than 20 million euros. But we still do not have the exact figures, especially with respect to operating losses, "says Jacques de Peretti, CEO of Axa France.

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