AXA Asia Pacific profits down 11%

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Takeover target AXA Asia Pacific Tuesday said its full-year profits dropped 11 percent as the surging Australian dollar ate into revenues earned abroad.

The wealth manager and life insurer, subject of a joint bid by French parent AXA SA and Australian financial services company AMP, said after-tax profits fell to Aus$601.6 million in 2010, from Aus$679.2 million in 2009.

AXA Asia Pacific Holdings (AXA APH) has operations in New Zealand, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, India and China, and is highly exposed to exchange rate fluctuations.

"This is a strong result with group operating earnings up 13 percent, after taking into account the impact of the strengthening Australian dollar," chief executive officer Andrew Penn said in a statement.

"After more than a year of ownership uncertainty, I am very pleased with the professionalism and focus of our teams and the exceptional performance of our businesses," he added.

"The AXA APH operations are well positioned to continue to grow, and we will be handing the businesses over in good shape if the merger with AMP and the sale of the Asian business to AXA SA are approved."

Penn said the company's independent assessor maintained a favourable view of AMP's Aus$13 billion bid for AXA after reviewing the full-year results.

Under the bid, AMP will integrate AXA's Australian and New Zealand businesses with its own and sell the Asian assets to AXA's parent company AXA SA, allowing the French firm to expand its reach in the developing region.

AMP was originally outbid by major Australian lender NAB but the bank dropped out last September after twice being blocked by competition regulators.

The antitrust watchdog has given AMP the all-clear and the companies are now awaiting a March 2 vote by AXA APH shareholders and the approval of Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan.

-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report --

© 2011 AFP

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