Axa mulls possible �2.75bn deal

A POSSIBLE deal to sell insurance giant Axa’s UK life and pensions business will not affect its Ipswich general insurance arm if it goes ahead, the company has confirmed.

The French firm has confirmed it is considering the sale of its UK life and pensions business in a �2.75billion deal with insurance buy-out firm Resolution, which owns Friends Provident.

If it goes ahead, the merger would create one of the UK’s biggest protectTion and group pensions businesses.

But Sandra McLaughlin, head of media at Axa, confirmed that staff at Ipswich, which number more than 1,000, would not be affected by any potential deal.

“If the deal goes ahead we’ll still have a general insurance arm in the UK. It won’t affect Ipswich - we’ll be maintaining our general insurance arm,” she said.

Resolution, which is headed up by insurance entrepreneur Clive Cowdery, bought Friends Provident for just under �2bn last year and is believed to have held discussions with up to nine companies since it was created in 2008.

Axa UK, which has around 10 million UK customers, employs 15,000 staff in the UK. If a deal is reached, the 2,000 employees at its life and pensions arm, based at Bristol and Coventry, would transfer.

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Axa said it will retain ownership of its UK wealth management business and keep a presence in the general insurance and healthcare markets in the UK if the deal goes ahead, but stressed there was no certainty it would.

The cost savings stemming from the merger of the Axa UK life and pensions arm and Friends Provident is expected to involve job losses.

Resolution predicted “significant cost synergies”, mainly from rationalisation of sales and marketing and operations and support costs.