AXA is a French multinational insurance firm providing financial services and insurance and reinsurance products for corporate, small-to-medium enterprises, and individual consumers. The company offers various personal and business products, such as car, travel, home, health, and life insurance. The company also offers individual and group savings retirement products and retail banking products and services through a network of agents, salaried sales forces, brokers, independent financial advisors, and bank networks.
The company is headquartered in Paris, France, and operates as a holding company through various segments: France, Europe, Asia, AXA XL, The United States, International and Transversal & Central Holdings. The France segments include life and savings, property and casualty activities, AXA Banque France, and France Holdings. AXA also engages in charitable and sustainability initiatives, such as the AXA Hearts in Action and the AXA Research Fund, which works to fight climate change. The company suggests it is working to be a force for good, socially and environmentally.
AXA traces its corporate history back to the nineteenth century with a small mutual insurer from Normandy: Ancienne Mutuelle de Rouen, a small insurer founded early in the nineteenth century specializing in property and casualty insurance. The small firm had an uneventful history before the 1950s and the leadership of Claude Bébéar.
Under Bébéar, described as a charismatic businessman, the company began the acquisition of several companies to give the company a nationwide presence. Some of the acquisitions were twice AXA's size, including the Drouot Group in 1982, France's leading private insurance company at the time. The company formally changed its name to AXA in 1985, and this was followed by several other acquisitions, including the U.S. firm Equitable in 1991 and rival firm UAP in 1996.
In 2000, Claude Bébéar stepped down from his leadership role, and Henri de Castries took the leadership role. This proved to be a difficult period, with the company suffering an estimated €650 losses from the popping of the dot-com bubble and the fallout from the 9/11 attacks. In 2016, the company would again change leadership, with Thomas Buberl taking over. This would result in the 2018 acquisition of the XL group, making AXA one of the largest property and casualty insurers in the world.
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