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Axa Plans to Cut 1,600 Jobs in Germany by 2015 to Lower Costs

Dec. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Axa SA, Europe’s second-biggest insurer, plans to cut its full-time workforce in Germany by 18 percent to reduce its costs amid “difficult” price competition in Europe’s largest economy.

The German unit, Axa Konzern AG, will cut about 1,600 of 9,000 positions by 2015 to help save as much as 320 million euros ($430 million) per year, Ingo Koch, a spokesman for the company, said by phone today. He confirmed an interview with the unit’s head, Frank Keuper, in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

“We need to make sure that we remain competitive with pricing, which is very difficult in Germany at the moment,” Koch said.

Axa, led by Chief Executive Officer Henri de Castries, is banking on Asia and scaling back in some developed markets as it aims for 10 percent annual growth in operating earnings per share through 2015. The Paris-based insurer is targeting annual operating profit of more than 6 billion euros by 2015, up from 3.9 billion euros last year.

Axa made similar cuts after it bought Credit Suisse Group AG’s Winterthur insurance business in 2006. The German DBV-Winterthur unit was combined with Cologne-based Axa Konzern, resulting in a reduction of 1,200 positions.

The reductions will be “socially responsible” and make the insurer “more efficient, with measures including digitalization and automation of workflows as well as a streamlining of processes,” Koch said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Oliver Suess in Munich at osuess@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net

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