Shares in XL Group have ceased trading on the New York Stock Exchange after Axa completed its $15.3bn deal to buy the Bermudian, which it says will provide “enhanced diversification and alternative capital”.
Axa announced the closing of the deal yesterday after overcoming the final hurdle to completion when it got the green light from regulators.
In a statement announcing the deal’s completion yesterday, Axa said XL “complements and diversifies” its existing commercial insurance portfolio, while the carrier’s reinsurance book offered diversification and improved access to alternative capital.
“The completion of this transaction marks a significant milestone in our strategic ambition to further improve the balance between technical and financial margin,” said Axa boss Thomas Buberl.
“This transaction accelerates our transformation, allowing us to deliver enhanced solutions and services to a greater number of clients, and provides opportunities for significant long-term value creation for our stakeholders, with increased risk diversification, strong underwriting discipline, higher cash remittance potential as well as reinforced growth prospects,” he went on.
XL president Greg Hendrick, who will head up Axa’s newly-amalgamated property and casualty division, said the deal will shift Axa from a life and savings-heavy business to one that is most weighted toward P&C.
XL CEO Mike McGavick - the man who led XL from safety ten years ago as it looked exposed to the chill winds of the financial crisis - will become vice chairman of the new Axa XL unit. In ten years, he increased value in XL stock by almost 2,000 percent following its 2008 lows.
In contrast, Buberl received criticism when the transaction was first announced because of the apparent volte-face in the group’s M&A strategy, the high 2x price-to-tangible book value that the company paid and the fact the deal was not fully funded.
In the aftermath of the announcement, Axa’s share price dipped by almost 16 percent to EUR21.15 - wiping almost EUR6bn from its value - and it has only made a modest recovery since.
A later SEC proxy filing revealed that XL had talks with at least six other unsuccessful suitors over the last two years.
Although not identified, they are thought to have included Allianz, The Hartford and Swiss Re.
Axa’s fund raising initiatives included a near $3bn IPO of its Axa Equitable Holdings unit.
While last month, Axa agreed to sell its European variable annuity group for EUR1.2bn ($1.4bn).