Axa Sells SunLife, Appoints Harlin CFO of Chief Buberl’s Team

Axa SA sold its SunLife unit in the U.K. to Phoenix Group Holdings and announced the top-management team that will work with incoming Chief Executive Officer Thomas Buberl when he takes the helm in September.

Gerald Harlin will become group chief financial officer while Paul Evans will replace Buberl as head of the life & savings business and also head the global health business, Axa said in a statement on Friday. Gaelle Olivier will lead the property & casualty business and Jacques de Peretti will head the insurer’s French unit.

Thomas Buberl
Thomas Buberl
Photographer: Luc Castel/AXA SA

The sale of SunLife and its traditional investment and pension business will allow Axa to switch its U.K. focus to property & casualty, health and asset management. The firm reiterated on Friday that the sale, along with earlier disposals of its Elevate business to Standard Life Plc and an offshore bonds business, will result in a negative 400 million euro ($448 million) impact on net income.

Buberl, 43, has led Axa’s German business for four years and was picked in March to replace 61-year-old CEO Henri de Castries, who decided to leave the company earlier than expected. Under de Castries, Axa grew into one of the world’s largest insurance companies through acquisitions in Switzerland and, more recently, in emerging markets such as China and Colombia. Axa will announce its new financial targets at an investor day on June 21.

Veronique Weill will be chief customer officer of the group and CEO of the newly created Axa Global Asset Management unit. Jean-Louis Laurent Josi will take the role of CEO of Axa Asia, while Mark Pearson will head the U.S. Unit. George Stansfield will be general secretary with responsibilities including human resources, the company said. Benoit Claveranne will be the company’s chief transformation officer.

Jean-Laurent Granier, an Axa veteran who was global head of property & casualty while also overseeing the Mediterranean and South America region, is leaving at the end of June as he seeks a career change, the company said Thursday. Nicolas Moreau, the head of Axa’s French unit and also a member of the group’s management committee, is leaving for unspecified reasons, the insurer said earlier this month.

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