AXA Annuities

AXA – Equitable is the U.S. arm of AXA Group, a French company whose holdings comprise the 15th-largest company in the world, according to the 2007 Fortune Global 500. In 1991, AXA Group acquired a controlling interest in The Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States, known as The Equitable. AXA Group bought out remaining minority shareholders in 2000 to complete its acquisition of The Equitable.

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AXA Group

AXA Group is the world’s leading insurer, with some 50 million clients in over 50 countries. As of September, 2008, AXA Group had $665 billion in assets under management in Western Europe, North America and the Asia/Pacific region. The company name is not an acronym but rather the outgrowth of a marketing decision by French company Mutuelle Unies.  Its marketing experts settled on “AXA” because the word is easily pronounceable and alphabetically convenient, insuring the company a prominent spot in alphabetical listings.

History of The Equitable

The Equitable boasts a long and distinguished history. It was begun in 1859 by Henry Hyde. Only a decade later, it was already writing more new business than any other insurance company. Hyde pioneered the annuity concept by introducing deferred annuities called “tontines” in 1868. By 1890, annuity sales had helped make The Equitable the world’s largest insurance company.

Over the years, The Equitable established a record of business innovation, becoming the first insurance company to pay death claims immediately, the first to set up training classes for agents, the first to introduce home-purchase plans, the first to sell group life insurance, the pioneers of in-hospital major-medical insurance and among the first to sell variable annuities and variable life insurance. The Equitable was also the first American company to build its own company headquarters building, which was located in the heart of New York City. This building and its business success combined to give The Equitable one of the highest public profiles of any company.

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AXA Annuities

AXA Equitable has maintained its leadership position in variable annuities; its variable products ranked first in industry new sales in 2007. In addition to a fixed annuity product, the company offers immediate annuities as well. AXA annuities are issued by AXA Equitable Life Insurance Co., which has been rated for financial strength by the four leading life insurance rating companies. AXA Equitable is rated A+ (2nd highest of 16 ratings) by A.M. Best, AA (3rd highest of 21 ratings) by Standard & Poor’s, Aa3 (4th highest of 21 ratings) by Moody’s and AA- (4th highest of 21 ratings) by Fitch.

Recent News

Many of the world’s leading insurance companies have suffered financially during the current financial crisis, some of them because of financial ties to such casualties as Bear Stearns, Lehman and AIG. In September, 2008, AXA Group revealed that its interests in Lehman and AIG were “non-material” in nature, comprising 0.05% and 0.02%, respectively, of those companies’ equity shares. Its asset management firm, Alliance Bernstein, held larger stakes in those two firms, but those assets do not constitute proprietary holdings of AXA Group.

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