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AXA sells Winterthur's U.S. arm


PARIS— AXA S.A. said it had agreed to sell the United States arm of its recent acquisition Winterthur Swiss Insurance Co. to Australia's QBE Insurance Group Ltd. for $1.16 billion.

As part of the sale, the property/casualty insurer Winterthur U.S. Holdings Inc., based in Wisconsin, will repay $636 million in inter-company loans to Winterthur Swiss Insurance Co., bringing the deal's total price tag to about $1.8 billion, Paris-based AXA said.

The transaction, subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close in the second quarter of 2007, AXA said.

In 2006, Winterthur U.S. collected gross written premiums of about $1.48 billion and posted net income of $81 million.

AXA, which announced in June that it had decided to put Winterthur's U.S. operations under strategic review, said Friday that the sale would not affect its synergy targets for integrating Winterthur, because those targets did not include cost savings from Winterthur U.S.

Standard & Poor's Corp. said Friday that the sale would not change its AA- ratings on AXA's core insurance operating companies or its A+ rating on Winterthur Swiss Insurance Co.

The sale would have no impact on Winterthur's strategically important status within the AXA group. Furthermore, the transaction will not materially affect AXA group's business and financial profile," S&P said.