Atlas Magazine July 2006

The big moves

Rumours were confirmed. AXA has finally absorbed Winterthur for 11 billion USD.

For a year or so, insurance giants have again expressed their rejoice in external growth. Indeed, it was Swiss Re which first showed its teeth by buying out the American General Electric Insurance Solutions, at the end of 2005.

In June 2006, French AXA repositions itself on the direct market. After its disengagement from reinsurance, it lays hand on the first Swiss company and its 19 million customers scattered around 17 countries, such a commendable move given the reputation of the Swiss market as highly resistant to foreign investors. Winterthur takeover enables AXA to snatch European insurance leadership from its rival Allianz.

The British market was the scene of act three as Resolution bought out life insurance portfolio of Abbey National for 6.6 billion USD.

Soon after, it was Generali, which after having undertaken a profound reorganisation of its operations in Italy, bought out Toro, the peninsula's fourth insurer, late June.

The trend is in full swing. Other operators are taking up arms. The Spanish Mapfre is demutualising to lift funds and finance its international expansion.

Who's next? Who will be the predator? Who will be the pray?

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