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Axa Is Said to Seek Buyers for Part of Former Mony Unit in U.S.

Axa SA, France’s largest insurer, is seeking buyers for some U.S. life insurance assets that may be worth at least $500 million, said three people with knowledge of the matter.

Morgan Stanley is advising Axa on the sale effort, which includes remnants of the Mony Group Inc. business that Axa acquired in 2004, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process is private. Most of the divisions up for sale have already stopped selling new insurance policies, the people said.

Axa has focused on expanding mostly in emerging markets in recent years, paying A$1.97 billion ($2.1 billion) in 2011 to buy out its remaining stake in Melbourne-based Axa Asia Pacific Holdings Ltd., gaining full control of its Asian operations from India to Indonesia. Deputy Chief Executive Officer Denis Duverne lowered earnings targets last month amid “unfavorable” European stock markets and lower yields on U.S. and German government bonds.

Spokesmen for Paris-based Axa and Morgan Stanley, which is based in New York, declined to comment.

After buying Mony for $1.5 billion, Axa folded Mony’s network of financial advisers into its own, and stopped selling most new insurance policies at the Mony Life Insurance Co. of America subsidiary.

Mony Life had $685 million of shareholders’ equity as of Dec. 31, according to a regulatory filing. It had a statutory surplus, a measure used by state insurance regulators, of $537 million as of Sept. 30, according to SNL Financial.

Axa’s other operations in the U.S. include the Axa Equitable Life Insurance Co. and the investment manager AllianceBernstein Holding LP.

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