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Axa and Winterthur will merge group pensions

Axa and Winterthur are to merge their group personal pension businesses but will continue to run individual personal pension and investment segments separately.

Axa announced its 5.4bn acquisition of Winterthur Group from Credit Suisse in June, citing its reputation among high-end IFAs as a key driver behind the deal.

It says the decision not to merge the IPP businesses will enable Winterthur to cont-inue to focus on the higher end of the IFA market with commission-free transparent products,while Axa targets a broader range of intermediaries.

Winterthur chief executive Mike Kellard, who will report to Axa Life chief executive Paul Evans, says the decision was straightforward and followed an unprompted response from IFAs. He says: “We listened to what the market told us. IFAs who have dealt with Axa and Winterthur in the past say they value the different business models we provide.”

Evans says: “The decision makes sense because there is very little overlap in our proposition to IFAs.”

The GPP merger of will begin on January 1, 2007, the day after the takeover deal is expected to be officially ratified. Evans says details of the merger of operations, including staffing levels and how the business will be structured, have not yet been discussed.

Evans says. “Our group personal pensions have been converging over the last couple of years and Axa, like Winterthur, now has a strong focus on the employee ben- efit market.

“Continuing to run the businesses separately did not make sense as the people we deal with want clarity.”

Kellard says: “We have a clear target market but Axa’s UK presence and distribution expertise will make it easier for us to expand our proposition and move into different product areas.”

Syndaxi Financial Planning managing director Robert Reid says: “It is a highly sensible move to keep the individual personal pension proposi- tions separate.”

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