French Insurer AXA Wants to Buy Genworth’s Lifestyle Protection Arm

July 22, 2015 by Mark Bentley

Axa SA is in exclusive talks with Genworth Financial Inc. to buy its lifestyle protection insurance business for 475 million euros ($520 million) to create the third-biggest player in the European creditor insurance market.

The deal values Genworth LPI at 0.65 times book value and Axa expects to complete the purchase by the end of the year, the Paris-based company said in a statement on Wednesday. Lifestyle protection provides insurance against the financial impact of major illness, accident or death.

Axa, France’s biggest insurer, is seeking to diversify away from products with guaranteed returns for clients such as pensions, which have become less profitable due to low interest rates in Europe. Genworth is looking to sell assets after being burned by higher-than-expected costs on long-term care policies, which pay for home-health aides and nursing home stays.

“This operation would be another milestone in Axa’s ambition to become a leading global provider of credit and lifestyle protection,” Deputy Chief Executive Officer Denis Duverne said. “It would represent a unique opportunity to obtain a scalable footprint in Europe and capture additional business potential in high growth markets.”

Genworth LPI, based in London, reported revenue of 714 million euros last year, ranking it seventh in Europe with a 4 percent market share, Axa said. Axa operates in the industry through Axa Creditor, ranked sixth with 5 percent of the European market and gross written premiums of 895 million euros in 2014, the company said.

The sale will help simplify Genworth’s business and increase financial strength, CEO Tom McInerney said in a separate statement. Barclays Plc and Sidley Austin LLP are advising Genworth on the sale.