Chairman of the Board, Dennis Duverne, opens the conference and summons ” His joy at finding shareholders after two years behind closed doors “.and this is his last meeting, as he will leave the chairmanship of the board of directors at the end of this meeting.” Turns a chapter in the history of AXA He explains, with the appointment of Antoine Josset-Greenville as chairman of the board. He also renews his confidence in him, as well as in Thomas Buberl, General Manager.
Strong performance in 2021
After a short video sequence, Thomas Buberl began his presentation emphasizing, ” Axa is at the beginning of a new phase of transformation “.This will be based on three pillars: streamlining the group, transforming the risk profile, and improving the customer experience. He also returned to” Excellent performance For 2021, in line with the objectives of the “Leadership Process 2023” plan presented at the end of 2020. He noted that net operating income per share increased by 7% in 2021, in line with the target range between 3% and 7%. The current return on equity, at 14.7%, was placed on top of the target, which was set between 13% and 15%. Moreover, he welcomed the increase in the solvency ratio to 217%, well above the “Leadership Operation” plan target of 190%. It testifies to the firmness and resilience of the company in an unstable geopolitical and economic context.
Thomas Buberl believes that ” Axa is doing very well and has successfully completed her transformation It was launched in 2016, which aims to refocus the company on strategic markets and reduce awareness of financial risks. He praised the operating profit of Axa XL, which has returned to the green with nearly 1.2 billion euros, and wishes to continue developing its “Big Risks” subsidiary. The change must continue according to him, and AXA must look towards the international. The director plans to continue its expansion in Europe, which accounts for 2.4 billion in revenue but is down 4% this year. However, he confirms that France remains the pillar of the group, with a turnover of 1.8 billion euros (+8%). The extension of life expectancy and the globalization of companies are, in fact, increasing, on the European continent, the need for insurance protection. In addition to international development, Thomas Popperle expressed the need for environmental and responsible management: “ One of Axa’s five main priorities is the fight against climate change In line with its chairmanship of the Net Zero Insurance Alliance, AXA will therefore invest 1.5 billion euros in sustainable forest management and by 2023 wants to increase its green investment to 26 billion euros.
Frédéric de Courtois, who was having his first meeting as Executive Vice President, reveals the accounts for 2021. In particular, he notes that the turnover of the property-related and loss-related business is growing strongly, part of which is related to the non-recurrence of compensation due to Covid. In this sector, AXA hopes to boost its underwriting performance and aims to achieve a combined ratio of 93% in 2023. This ratio has decreased again, relating to revenue claims costs, from 96.4% (excluding Covid) in 2020, to 94.6 % this year. The savings and retirement sector recorded an increase in turnover (+9%), with an excellent performance in France (+17%), driven by pension products and growth funds in euros. Growth also continued in Asia (mainly Hong Kong and Japan) and allows this sector to return to operating profit by 3%, while declining by 1% in 2020. Finally, he confirmed, for the asset management sector, that the fundraising process is excellent, which has enabled Its sales increase by 20% this year.
Jean-Pierre Clamdieu, Principal Director and Chairman of the Compensation Committee, announces newcomers to the Board of Directors as well as the compensation policy. He states that the group has a rule that compensation should not be changed during the director’s term of office. However, he clarified that the current fixed salary of the General Manager is 1.45 million euros and that a new decision aims to increase it to 1.65 million euros. The compensation of the variable manager should also be increased to 1.75 million euros. This is determined according to the group’s performance of the 70%, but also according to the individual performance of the manager of the 30%. Jean-Pierre Clamdieu justifies these increases by the fact that Thomas Buberl is changing his term and that there has been no increase during his last two terms. Moreover, he was paid less than other managers of major insurance companies. Therefore, AXA lost its competitive edge. However, this pay increase is not to everyone’s taste, as influential consulting agency ISS has called on shareholders to oppose it. In addition to compensation, Jean-Pierre Clamdieu insists on Axa’s employee contribution policy, particularly ‘Shareplan’. In 2021, €291 million of shares were purchased by more than 21,000 employees. Thus, they own 4.1% of the share capital and 6% of the voting rights.
Stormy question-and-answer session
Then comes the question-and-answer session which was very lively. In fact, it featured journalist Elise Lucet, who is known for her persistence towards great leaders on her show Critical Investigations. She asked the insurance company about continuing its investments in oil companies, although other companies such as CNP Assurances have stopped them. Thomas Buberl answered the topic of relocation. He believes, in fact, that it is absolutely necessary to continue to phase out fossil fuels, keeping in mind the constraints of companies in this energy transition. This is why Axa continues to invest in “fossil” companies, but is in line with its Zero Carbon 2050 strategy. This position was supported by its Chairman, Dennis Duverne, who explained: “ We should Continue to use fossil fuels, otherwise the economy will stop, and it will not be a transition Thomas Buberl also noted that investment in fossil fuels represents a small portion of AXA’s total investment. Moreover, he reiterated that the company was pioneer ” In reducing fossil fuels, by withdrawing from coal in 2015 and reducing its investment in oil and shale by more than 70%.
A former employee of the group also questioned the disputed manager’s pay increase, adopting a frank turn: ” Mr. Popperl, if you were paid less, would you do less work for AXA? It was Dennis Dufferne who finally responded, considering that the decision that had been made was.” shout », considering that it was based on the performance of the group, and the performance of the leader.
Voting results have now been revealed. The dividend of €1.54 was voted on by 99.93%. Subsequent compensation for the CEO for 2021 was approved by 90.86% of the vote. On the other hand, the prior bonus related to the increase in fixed and variable wages was voted on by only 77.7%, which indicates the controversy that prevailed over this salary increase.
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