France-Based Global Multiline Insurer AXA Outlook To Positive On Improved Financial Risk Profile; Ratings Affirmed

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1 Research Update: France-Based Global Multiline Insurer AXA Outlook To Positive On Improved Financial Risk Profile; Ratings Affirmed Primary Credit Analyst: Merryleas J Rousseau, Paris ; Secondary Contact: Taos D Fudji, Milan (39) ; Table Of Contents Overview Rating Action Rationale Outlook Ratings Score Snapshot Related Criteria And Research Ratings List OCTOBER 15,

2 Research Update: France-Based Global Multiline Insurer AXA Outlook To Positive On Improved Financial Risk Overview In our view, France-based global multiline insurer AXA group's continued shift toward insurance products with less investment risks and more cautiously managed capital buffers, will help improve its risk profile. As a result, we expect the group to manage its capital adequacy above our 'A' capital adequacy benchmark over the next two years, leading us to raise our assessment of its financial risk profile to "strong." We are therefore revising our outlook to positive and affirming our 'A+' ratings on the core insurance operating entities of AXA group. The positive outlook indicates that we could raise the ratings over the next 24 months if AXA group continues to improve the strength and resilience of its balance sheet. Rating Action On Oct. 15, 2014, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services revised to positive from stable its outlook on the holding company and core and highly strategic subsidiaries of the AXA group. At the same time, we affirmed our 'A+' financial strength and counterparty credit ratings on the AXA group's core subsidiaries and our 'A-/A-2' counterparty credit ratings on the holding company, AXA. We also affirmed our 'A' long-term and 'A-1' short-term counterparty credit ratings on Belgium-based bank AXA Bank Europe and the 'A-1+' short-term rating on U.S.-based AXA Equitable Life Insurance Co. We also affirmed the ratings on all senior and subordinated debt issues. The outlooks on all the long-term ratings are positive. Rationale Our outlook revision reflects our view that AXA's financial risk profile has improved. We consider that a combination of strong retained earnings, effective risk management, and a lower risk profile could enable AXA to strengthen its risk-adjusted capital adequacy position further, to a level supportive of a higher rating. Our base case factors in management actions to reduce risk in the group's OCTOBER 15,

3 product offering, which we consider will likely further mitigate pressures from the difficult operating environment. It also reflects our expectation that resilient earnings will support the group's strong capital adequacy. We have consequently revised upward our view of AXA Group's financial risk profile to strong from moderately strong. AXA's very strong business risk profile and its strong financial risk profile result in an anchor of either 'aa-' or 'a+'. We choose the lower of the two outcomes, reflecting our view that AXA's overall risk tolerances remain higher than those of higher rated peers, particularly with regards to the management of capital adequacy, which remains a relative weakness. Furthermore, the difficult operating and economic environments could weigh on AXA's ability to post strong capital generation, and restrict the group's ability to build and sustain capital adequacy at levels supportive of a higher rating. Our improved view of AXA's financial risk profile is mostly based on our opinion that its risk position has improved to intermediate. This reflects our expectation that the group's capital and earnings profile will show more resilience compared with the past five years and that it will maintain capital adequacy at least above the 'A' benchmark according to our criteria over the next two years, despite low interest rates and an uncertain economy. Since the group announced its Ambition AXA plan, it has been steadily shifting its life product offering toward more protection and health. Traditional savings products now account for 15% of life new business on an annual premium equivalent (APE) basis, compared with 25% in This product shift reduces the group's sensitivity to the current challenging operating environment and low long-term interest rates in the eurozone, in our opinion. The current in-force business of guaranteed savings contracts continues to generate positive investment spreads and a limited asset liability mismatch. In the U.S., the group posted 431 million underlying earnings in the first half of 2014, up 39% on the first half of 2013 and up 94% on the first half of We expect this higher earning resilience to continue. The U.S. equity markets are at significantly higher levels than during We therefore view the potential for material investment-related losses from the variable annuity (VA) book as less likely. In addition, the less-capital-intensive VA products sold since continue to gain prominence in the book, further lowering volatility risk. The group benefits from broad geographic diversification in life and savings (L&S): 43% of APE at 2013 and 48% of L&S underlying earnings come from the U.S. and Asia. This should help cushion the impact on the group's embedded value and earnings of the deteriorating European economy. The property and casualty and international insurance businesses, which accounted for 49% of underlying earnings at 2013 and reported combined ratios of 96.6% and 98.2%, respectively, are also likely to sustain earnings over the next two years. (Lower combined ratios indicate better profitability. A combined ratio of greater than 100% signifies an underwriting loss.) OCTOBER 15,

4 Our base-case assumptions include total internal capital generation (after dividend payout) of 8 billion- 9 billion over We expect these earnings to help position risk-adjusted capital adequacy according to our methodology well above the 'A' benchmark. Our assessment of capital adequacy includes multiple non-generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) adjustments, such as the group's P/C reserve redundancies and the benefit of equity hedges, which we expect the group to maintain at levels supportive of strong capital adequacy. Outlook The positive outlook indicates that we could raise the ratings over the next 24 months if--despite the low interest rates and difficult economic conditions--axa group continues to improve the strength and resilience of its balance sheet, as demonstrated through at least strong capital and earnings, effective risk management, and a lower risk profile. Upside scenario We could raise the ratings on AXA in the next 24 months if we considered that: The group's risk-adjusted capital adequacy had improved toward levels more consistent with a very strong assessment, which could result from capital generation in excess of our base-case assumptions or a greater-than-expected reduction in risk; and The group showed further evidence of a long-term improvement of its risk profile, supported by effective risk management. This could occur if the group continued to reduce risk from its product exposure on legacy and new business through careful management of the U.S. VA book and through a focus on less-capital-intensive products; and managed its investment risk exposures relative to capital at levels more in line with higher rated peers. Downside scenario We could revise the outlook to stable if: Capital adequacy was likely to remain close to or below our 'A' benchmark, which could result from aggressive growth, higher investment risk, or lower-than-expected retained earnings; or If AXA's financial risk profile was less resilient than we expect, which could occur if we had heightened concerns about the effectiveness of risk management. Ratings Score Snapshot To From Financial Strength Rating A+/Positive A+/Stable Anchor a+ a+ Business Risk Profile Very Strong Very Strong IICRA Intermediate risk Intermediate risk OCTOBER 15,

5 Competitive Position Extremely strong Extremely strong Financial Risk Profile Strong Moderately strong Capital and Earnings Moderately strong Moderately strong Risk Position Intermediate risk Moderate risk Financial Flexibility Strong Strong Modifiers 0 0 ERM and Management 0 0 Enterprise Risk Management Strong Strong Management and Governance Strong Strong Holistic Analysis 0 0 Liquidity Exceptional Exceptional Support 0 0 Group Support 0 0 Government Support 0 0 IICRA--Insurance Industry And Country Risk Assessment. Related Criteria And Research Related Criteria Insurers: Rating Methodology, May 7, 2013 Group Rating Methodology, Nov. 19, 2013 Enterprise Risk Management, May 7, 2013 Management And Governance Credit Factors For Corporate Entities And Insurers, Nov. 13, 2012 Refined Methodology And Assumptions For Analyzing Insurer Capital Adequacy Using The Risk-Based Insurance Capital Model, June 7, 2010 Use Of CreditWatch And Outlooks, Sept 14, 2009 Hybrid Capital Handbook, September 2008 Edition, 15 Sept Methodology For Linking Short-Term And Long-Term Ratings; for Corporate, Insurance, And Sovereign Issuers, May 7, 2013 Ratings List Ratings Affirmed AXA Assurances IARD Mutuelle (Unsolicited Ratings) Counterparty Credit Rating Local Currency A+pi/--/-- Financial Strength Rating Local Currency A+pi/--/-- AXA Equitable Life Insurance Co. AXA France IARD Financial Enhancement Rating OCTOBER 15,

6 Local Currency A+/--/-- AXA Senior Unsecured A- Subordinated BBB Junior Subordinated BBB- Commercial Paper A-2 AXA Equitable Life Insurance Co. Subordinated A- AXA Financial Inc. Senior Unsecured A- Commercial Paper A-2 Ratings Affirmed; Outlook Action To From AXA Counterparty Credit Rating A-/Positive/A-2 A-/Stable/A-2 AXA Bank Europe S.A. Counterparty Credit Rating A/Positive/A-1 A/Stable/A-1 AXA Belgium MONY Life Insurance Co. of America DBV Deutsche Beamten-Versicherung AG AXA Versicherungen AG AXA Versicherung AG AXA Life and Annuity Co. AXA Lebensversicherung AG AXA Krankenversicherung AG AXA Insurance U.K. PLC AXA France Vie AXA France IARD Counterparty Credit Rating Local Currency A+/Positive/-- A+/Stable/-- AXA Belgium MONY Life Insurance Co. of America DBV Deutsche Beamten-Versicherung AG AXA Versicherungen AG AXA Versicherung AG AXA Life and Annuity Co. AXA Lebensversicherung AG AXA Krankenversicherung AG AXA Insurance U.K. PLC AXA Insurance Co. AXA France Vie AXA France IARD AXA Equitable Life Insurance Co. OCTOBER 15,

7 AXA Corporate Solutions Assurance Financial Strength Rating Local Currency A+/Positive/-- A+/Stable/-- AXA Equitable Life Insurance Co. Counterparty Credit Rating Local Currency A+/Positive/A-1+ A+/Stable/A-1+ AXA Financial Inc. Counterparty Credit Rating Local Currency A-/Positive/-- A-/Stable/-- Additional Contacts: Lotfi Elbarhdadi, Paris (33) ; Insurance Ratings Europe; Complete ratings information is available to subscribers of RatingsDirect at and at spcapitaliq.com. All ratings affected by this rating action can be found on Standard & Poor's public Web site at Use the Ratings search box located in the left column. Alternatively, call one of the following Standard & Poor's numbers: Client Support Europe (44) ; London Press Office (44) ; Paris (33) ; Frankfurt (49) ; Stockholm (46) ; or Moscow 7 (495) OCTOBER 15,

8 Copyright 2014 Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC, a part of McGraw Hill Financial. All rights reserved. No content (including ratings, credit-related analyses and data, valuations, model, software or other application or output therefrom) or any part thereof (Content) may be modified, reverse engineered, reproduced or distributed in any form by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC or its affiliates (collectively, S&P). The Content shall not be used for any unlawful or unauthorized purposes. S&P and any third-party providers, as well as their directors, officers, shareholders, employees or agents (collectively S&P Parties) do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, timeliness or availability of the Content. S&P Parties are not responsible for any errors or omissions (negligent or otherwise), regardless of the cause, for the results obtained from the use of the Content, or for the security or maintenance of any data input by the user. The Content is provided on an "as is" basis. S&P PARTIES DISCLAIM ANY AND ALL EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR USE, FREEDOM FROM BUGS, SOFTWARE ERRORS OR DEFECTS, THAT THE CONTENT'S FUNCTIONING WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED, OR THAT THE CONTENT WILL OPERATE WITH ANY SOFTWARE OR HARDWARE CONFIGURATION. In no event shall S&P Parties be liable to any party for any direct, indirect, incidental, exemplary, compensatory, punitive, special or consequential damages, costs, expenses, legal fees, or losses (including, without limitation, lost income or lost profits and opportunity costs or losses caused by negligence) in connection with any use of the Content even if advised of the possibility of such damages. Credit-related and other analyses, including ratings, and statements in the Content are statements of opinion as of the date they are expressed and not statements of fact. S&P's opinions, analyses, and rating acknowledgment decisions (described below) are not recommendations to purchase, hold, or sell any securities or to make any investment decisions, and do not address the suitability of any security. S&P assumes no obligation to update the Content following publication in any form or format. The Content should not be relied on and is not a substitute for the skill, judgment and experience of the user, its management, employees, advisors and/or clients when making investment and other business decisions. S&P does not act as a fiduciary or an investment advisor except where registered as such. While S&P has obtained information from sources it believes to be reliable, S&P does not perform an audit and undertakes no duty of due diligence or independent verification of any information it receives. To the extent that regulatory authorities allow a rating agency to acknowledge in one jurisdiction a rating issued in another jurisdiction for certain regulatory purposes, S&P reserves the right to assign, withdraw, or suspend such acknowledgement at any time and in its sole discretion. S&P Parties disclaim any duty whatsoever arising out of the assignment, withdrawal, or suspension of an acknowledgment as well as any liability for any damage alleged to have been suffered on account thereof. S&P keeps certain activities of its business units separate from each other in order to preserve the independence and objectivity of their respective activities. As a result, certain business units of S&P may have information that is not available to other S&P business units. S&P has established policies and procedures to maintain the confidentiality of certain nonpublic information received in connection with each analytical process. S&P may receive compensation for its ratings and certain analyses, normally from issuers or underwriters of securities or from obligors. S&P reserves the right to disseminate its opinions and analyses. S&P's public ratings and analyses are made available on its Web sites, (free of charge), and and (subscription) and (subscription) and may be distributed through other means, including via S&P publications and third-party redistributors. Additional information about our ratings fees is available at OCTOBER 15,

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