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AMP still interested in AXA despite rejection

Thursday 18th February 2010

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AMP still interested in acquiring AXA Asia Pacific Holdings after its takeover offer was trumped by National Australia Bank.

“AXA remains strategically important to us,” chief executive Craig Dunn said in a statement accompanying AMP’s annual results. “We are continuing to consider our position and will do what is in the best interests of shareholders.”

National Australia offered A$13.3 billion for AXA in December, gaining acceptance from the target’s independent directors and eclipsing a combined offer from AMP and AXA SA. Australia’s antitrust regulator is evaluating the competing proposals, under which AXA’s Asian operations would be sold to its French parent, AXA SA, which owns 55% of the company.

AMP today posted a 5% decline in underlying earnings to A$772 million for calendar 2009, which Dunn called “a robust result in a very difficult business environment.

”AMP’s strong balance sheet and low cost ratios “provided the flexibility to increase investment in key growth initiatives,” he said.

Shares of AMP fell 1.3% to A$6.18 on the ASX today. AXA rose 0.8% to A$6.37 and National Australia was little changed at A$25.91.

AXA this month reported a 2009 profit of A$679 million, turning from a loss of A$279 million a year earlier.

AMP’s Dunn said looking forward, investment markets may remain volatile. While there are signs that investor confidence is returning, “it is likely to take some time to fully recover,” he said.

“Over the medium to long term, however, the fundamentals of the wealth management sector remain very attractive in our core markets,” he said.

SEE what's being said on the AXA/AMP tie-up here

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