Axa acquires French insurer

The private equity division of French insurance group Axa has bought the French insurance subsidiary of Cornhill Insurance.

Axa Private Equity, the French private equity house which invests balance sheet capital from its parent as well as funds from third party investors, has led a management-backed acquisition of Cornhill France, the French subsidiary of UK insurer Cornhill Insurance plc.

Cornhill France, which reported turnover last year of E43.4m, specialises in the provision of insurance for truck damage warranties, warranties for mechanical breakdowns and coverage of unpaid rents, where it is the French market leader.

Following the acquisition Axa PE will control a near three-quarter stake in the business, with management taking the remaining 25 per cent. Axa Private Equity has not disclosed the price paid, adding only that the deal was only 'moderately' leveraged. CCF arranged and underwrote all of the funding for the acquisition.

In a statement, Axa Private Equity said the firm would continue Cornhill’s expansion in France, capitalising on the business’ 10-15 per cent growth in its emerging markets within the French insurance market.

Axa’s private equity team has completed two divestments totalling E47.9m from its first fund, a E100m LBO fund which it raised in 1998. The fund, which made nine investments in total, has to date achieved a return of 124 per cent on original investments. Axa Private Equity carries out its LBO activity through two funds, advising on or managing over E4bn of private equity capital.