Axa's Turkish unit may buy Azeri insurer

ISTANBUL, Dec 23 (Reuters) - The Turkish unit of French insurer Axa AXAF.PA said on Wednesday it may acquire an insurance company in Azerbaijan next year as it seeks to expand in the region.

Istanbul-based Axa Sigorta, the country’s largest insurer, is also considering takeovers in the Turkish market, Axa Chief Executive Cemal Ererdi told Reuters in an interview.

“We are interested in a company in Azerbaijan, our work continues on that. It looks like we’ll finish in 2010,” he said.

He did not provide further details on the company involved.

In 2008, Axa paid $525 million to its Turkish partner Oyak to acquire the latter’s 50 percent stake in their joint venture, formed in 1999.

“We’re not just looking at possibilities domestically, but at the Turkic republics and other surroundings, while using Turkey as a platform,” he said. “Turkey is very important as a regional platform for the French Axa.”

(Reporting by Behiye Selin Taner; Writing by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by David Holmes)

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