Hinduja and ADIA combine in talks to but AXA stake in life insurance JV with Bharti

The Hinduja Group and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) are believed to be in talks to buy French insurer, AXA’s 49% stake in the latter’s life insurance JV with Bharti Enterprises for an undisclosed sum, two people aware of the matter said.

“The Hindujas and ADIA have been in talks with AXA to acquire its stake in the Bharti AXA Life Insurance JV, but there is no firm decision yet as negotiations are still around valuations,” a person aware of the deal talks told ET.

Another person, privy to the discussions, said AXA’s stake in Bharti AXA Life Insurance could be worth around $1 billion (Rs 7,500 crore approx).

Global brokerage Jefferies is believed to be an advisor to a potential transaction, and due diligence is likely to be concluded by early 2022, investment banking circles aware said.

Sunil Mittal-led Bharti group owns a 51% stake in Bharti AXA Life Insurance.

At press time, spokespersons for ADIA and Bharti AXA Life Insurance declined to offer comment to ET’s queries. Queries to the Hinduja and Bharti Groups also went unanswered at press time Thursday.

The Hinduja Group, a century-old conglomerate with diverse interests ranging from banking to automobiles, is reportedly keen to expand its insurance services play by moving beyond bancassurance and distribution. Group entity, IndusInd Bank, is known to have teamed up with several life insurance players to sell the latter’s insurance policies through the lender’s branches.

Gulf-based sovereign wealth fund, ADIA, in turn, is no stranger to insurance and in recent years has reportedly been an anchor investor in the initial public offerings (IPOs) of ICICI Lombard, SBI Life Insurance, and more recently, Star Health Insurance.

Bharti AXA Life Insurance JV, which was formed back in 2006, has a pan-India presence through its 236 offices and offers insurance solutions for motor/two-wheeler, health and critical illness, property and student, individual and family travel. The company recently said that notwithstanding tough economic conditions and the ongoing pandemic, there was a 36 % surge in its assets under management to Rs 9,374 crore in FY21 against Rs 6,902 crore in FY20.

French insurer AXA had raised its holdings in its life and non-life insurance joint ventures with Bharti Enterprises to 49% some six years ago when the government had eased foreign ownership caps in local insurance companies.


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