Henri de Castries, who succeeded the legendary Claude Bébéar as head of AXA last May, told the French financial newspaper Les Echos that the company’s primary focus is on growth in the financial service sector for both companies and individuals in Europe, North America and certain Asian and Pacific Rim countries.
He justified AXA’s intentions to acquire the minority interests of AXA Financial in the U.S., and Sun Life & Provincial Holdings in the U.K. as necessary moves to bolster the value of the company’s own securities for external growth.
The interview came after good news from Japan showed a turnaround in the fortunes of AXA Nichidan, its Japanese life operation. Having written off bad debts of 74 billion yen ($679 million) the company saw gross income rise 12.1 percent for the first six months of the year. Continued restructuring could mean a return to profitability for the full year.
De Castries also confirmed that, as previously planned, AXA had resold its shares in Credit Suisse First Boston back to the company for $1.6 billion.
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