Axa Wealth put up for sale

Business-Handshake-Finance-Deal-700.jpgAxa has put its wealth management business Axa Wealth up for sale, Fund Strategy understands.

The French insurer is believed to be searching for a buyer for the UK wealth division, which includes the Elevate platform, Sipps, onshore bonds, corporate pensions and its multi-manager arm Architas.

Sources say Barclays has been appointed by Axa to handle the sale on its behalf, while corporate advisory firms are currently pitching to represent private equity firms interested in buying.

An insider says: “There are lots of people out there looking at buying part of the business or the whole thing.”

A spokesman for Axa says: “We do not comment on market speculation.”

Platform research director Heather Hopkins says: “Elevate is much maligned by competitors as lacking direction and has a reputation for being difficult to work with.

“However, Platforum adviser reviews and AUA data suggest the firm is turning things around after a difficult 2014. The adviser platform outperformed competitors in AUA growth in Q1 and Q2. AXA has always been strong on pensions and so is a beneficiary of the pension reforms.”

Platforum data shows assets under administration grew 20.6 per cent, or £1.72bn, year-on-year to June. However, this is slower than the platform market as whole, which grew 33 per cent overall.

Axa Wealth’s half year results, published in August, show Elevate saw a 20 per cent rise in assets to £10bn in the first half of the year, with £1.1bn in inflows in that period driven by the pension freedoms.

The platform hit the £10bn assets mark in May, following record new money taken into the platform in March.

Total Axa Wealth funds under management grew 13 per cent to £29.1bn, up from £25.7bn last year.

In 2010, Axa sold its UK life and pensions business Friends Provident to Resolution in a £2.75bn deal. Friends Provident became Friends Life, which was in turn sold to Aviva in April this year.