AXA close to spinning off private equity arm - source

LONDON, March 22 Fri Mar 22, 2013 9:46am EDT

LONDON, March 22 (Reuters) - French insurer AXA is close to selling a majority stake in its private equity arm to a group of investors led by its management, in a deal valuing the unit at about 500 million euros ($646.28 million), a source familiar with the matter said on Friday.

Europe's No. 2 insurer, hired Credit Suisse in September 2011 to explore its options for the unit which has $28 billion of assets under management, Reuters reported at the time, as European insurers prepare to meet stiff new capital requirements under Solvency II industry regulations.

Spokesmen for AXA in Paris and AXA Private equity declined to comment.

AXA shares were trading 0.10 percent lower at 1345 GMT.

The private equity unit is run by Dominique Senequier, one of France's best-known female executives, who may buy more than 35 percent of the business, with AXA retaining a 25 to 30 percent stake, the source said.

The remaining stake would be held by other French investors including family offices.

The source cautioned that while a deal is imminent, details have yet to be finalised.