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AXA to take U.S. operations, AllianceBernstein stake public

AXA announced Wednesday it is planning an initial public offering for its U.S. insurance operations, confirmed spokeswoman Jennifer Recine.

The public company would also include the firm's 64% stake in AllianceBernstein (AB).

This IPO relates specifically to AXA's U.S. insurance arm and the firm's stake in AllianceBernstein; it has no impact on its asset management arm, AXA Investment Managers, said AXA IM spokeswoman Woomi Yun.

AXA America Corporate Solutions Inc. is also not expected to be part of the IPO, a news release said.

It could not be learned by press time when AXA plans to file. Ms. Recine declined to comment beyond the news release.

"With Seth Bernstein, the new AB CEO, we have the unique opportunity together to create a leading U.S. life insurance, annuity and asset management company," said Mark Pearson, president and CEO of AXA Financial in the news release.

Mr. Bernstein, AllianceBernstein's new president and CEO, added in the release: “At AB, we're excited to be taking this next step in our journey with AXA U.S. and the AXA Group. We'll continue to manage assets for both entities, and look forward to further aligning our businesses from here with new services and opportunities."

AXA announced May 1 that Mr. Bernstein replaced Peter Kraus as CEO at AllianceBernstein.

Prior to the IPO being filed, about $1 billion of outstanding debt owed by AXA U.S. to AXA Group will be converted into equity.

AXA announced that proceeds of the transaction would be reinvested in the group's "priority lines of business," which include its health, capital-light savings, protection, and property and casualty commercial lines. Proceeds could also potentially be returned to shareholders, depending, according to the news release, "on acquisition opportunities and market conditions."