Axa posts 18% net income drop as COVID-19 claims weigh

Underlying earnings fell by 34% while revenue was down 7%

  
The logo of AXA insurance is seen at an office building in Basel, Switzerland March 2, 2020.

The logo of AXA insurance is seen at an office building in Basel, Switzerland March 2, 2020.

REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

PARIS - Axa, Europe's second-biggest insurer after Allianz, on Thursday reported a 18% drop in net income last year as COVID-19 related claims hit earnings at its property and casualty insurance business.

Axa said that claims for business interruption and event cancellations due to the new coronavirus outbreak amounted to 1.5 billion euros, unchanged from a previous estimate.

"The impact from further lockdown measures in 2H20 was broadly neutral", Axa said in a statement.

The French insurer's net profit came in at 3.16 billion euros in 2020, down from 3.86 billion euros a year ago.

Underlying earnings fell by 34% while revenue was down 7%.

Axa's Chief Financial Officer Etienne Bouas-Laurent told reporters that the group expected "good momentum" in prices at its company-focused XL unit, which was badly hit by the pandemic, to continue until the end of the year.

The insurer said it planned to pay a 1.43 euro dividend per share this year from a reduced dividend of 0.73 euro last year when European insurers were required to cut dividend to keep reserves during the pandemic crisis.

(Reporting by Matthieu Protard, editing by Sarah White) ((matthieu.protard@thomsonreuters.com; +33-1-49495381;))

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