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Axa EUR2bn rights issue to fund 'high growth' acquisitions

Global insurance giant Axa has unveiled a EUR2bn rights issue to enable it to "seize future acquisition opportunities, primarily in high growth markets".

The French giant said the move will allow it to maintain a strong balance sheet while funding a proposed buyout of Australian financial services partner AMP's Asian holdings in the two firms' Axa Asia Pacific Holdings life unit. It also cited potential deals to acquire other minority interests in Central and Eastern Europe.

The Axa Asia Pacific deal, proposed on 6 November, would see AMP acquire 100 percent of the firms' Australian and New Zealand business, while Axa would take the whole of the company's Asian segment.

Axa chairman Henri de Castries said the proposed transaction would reinforce the company's growth profile by "doubling its exposure to the Asian Life & Savings market and further optimise the corporate structure of the group".

Axa said the settlement and listing of the new shares are expected to take place on 4 December.

The company added that its major shareholders, Axa Assurances Mutuelle and Axa Assurances Vie Mutuelle, which hold 14.29 percent of its equity, are to exercise their subscription rights. BNP Paribas and Schneider Electric - which hold 5.36 percent and 0.47 percent respectively - have also indicated they will participate.

The insurer said that the remainder of the issue has been underwritten by a syndicate of banks.

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