Chairman of the Board Denis Duvern opens the conference and reminds ” his joy of finding shareholders after two years behind closed doors “This is his last meeting, as he will resign as chairman of the board at the end of this meeting.” The chapter in the history of Axa unfolds he explains the appointment of Antoine Gosse-Grenville as chairman. He is also regaining his trust in him and in Thomas Buberl, the managing director.
Good performance in 2021
It was after a short video that Thomas Buberl began his presentation, assuring: ” that Axa is at the beginning of a new phase of transformation “It will be based on three pillars: simplifying the group, transforming the risk profile and improving the customer experience. He also returned to.” excellent performance for 2021, in accordance with the goals of the plan “Process of 2023”, presented at the end of 2020. He recalled that net operating income per share increased by 7% in 2021 in line with the target range of 3% to 7%. The current return on equity, which is 14.7%, is also on top of the target of between 13% and 15%. He also welcomed the increase in the solvency ratio to 217%, well above the 190% target of the Driving Process plan. This indicates the strength and stability of the company in an unstable geopolitical and economic context.
Thomas Buberl believes that ” Aksa feels very well and has successfully completed her transformation launched in 2016, which aimed to reorient the company to strategic markets and reduce awareness of financial risks. He praised the operating profit of Axa XL, which returned to the green level of almost 1.2 billion euros, and wants to continue the development of its subsidiary Major Risks. According to him, changes must continue, and Aksa must look at the international. The leader intends to continue its expansion in Europe, which is $ 2.4 billion in revenue, but this year less than 4%. However, he claims that the backbone of the group remains France with a business volume of 1.8 billion euros (+ 8%). Increasing life expectancy and globalization of companies increase, in fact, the need for insurance protection on the European continent. In addition to international development, Thomas Buberl expressed the need for environmental and responsible governance: “ One of Axa’s top five priorities is to combat climate change Under its chairmanship of the Net Zero Insurance Alliance, Axa is investing € 1.5 billion in sustainable forest management and wants to increase its green investment to € 26 billion by 2023.
Frederic de Courtois, who held his first meeting as Deputy Chief Executive Officer, is unfolding reports for 2021. He, in particular, points out that the turnover in the business of property and victims is growing rapidly, part of this is due to the uniqueness of compensation through Covid. In this segment, Axa hopes to strengthen its underwriting results and aims to reach 93% in 2023. This ratio, which links the cost of claims to income, fell again from 96.4% (excluding Covid) in 2020 to 94.6% this year. The savings and pensions sector recorded an increase in business volumes (+ 9%) with excellent performance in France (+ 17%), thanks to pension products and euro growth funds. Growth also continues in Asia (mainly in Hong Kong and Japan) and allows the sector to return to operating profit of 3%, while in 2020 it fell by 1%. Finally, he stressed that the Asset Management segment is an excellent fundraiser, which has increased turnover by 20% this year.
Jean-Pierre Clamadier, lead director and chairman of the Compensation Committee, announces the new members of the board of directors, as well as the compensation policy. He reminds that the group has a rule not to change the remuneration during the term of office of the director. However, he explains that the current fixed salary of the CEO is 1.45 million euros and that the new regulation aims to increase it to 1.65 million euros. The manager’s variable remuneration should also be increased to 1.75 million euros. This is determined in accordance with the work of the group by 70%, as well as individual work of the head by 30%. Jean-Pierre Clamadier justifies these increases by saying that Thomas Buberl is changing his mandate and that none has been increased during his last two terms. Moreover, he was paid less than other managers of large insurance companies. As a result, Axa has lost its competitiveness. However, such an increase in remuneration is not to everyone’s liking, as the influential consulting agency ISS called on shareholders to oppose it. In addition to compensation, Jean-Pierre Clamadier insists on Axa’s shareholding policy, including Shareplan. In 2021, more than 21,000 employees bought 291 million euros in shares. Thus, they own 4.1% of the capital and 6% of the voting rights.
A stormy session of questions and answers
This was followed by a question and answer session, which was extremely lively. Indeed, she was noted by journalist Eliza Luset, known for her perseverance for big leaders in her show Cash Investigation. She questioned the insurer’s continued investment in oil companies, although others, such as CNP Assurances, stopped them. Thomas Buberl responded to the transition. In fact, he believes that it is absolutely necessary to continue to go out of fossil fuels, given the limitations of companies in this energy transition. That’s why Axa continues to invest in fossil companies that are compatible with the 2050 zero-carbon strategy. This position was supported by Chairman Denis Duvern, who explains: ” We have to continue to use fossil fuels, otherwise the economy will stop and it will not be a transition “Thomas Buberl also recalled that investment in fossil fuels is a tiny fraction of Axa’s total investment. He also confirmed that the company was pioneer” in reducing fossil fuels, by extracting coal in 2015 and reducing investment in oil and shale by more than 70%.
The increase in remuneration to the controversial leader was also questioned by a former employee of the group, who made an outspoken move: ” Mr. Buberl, if you were paid less, would you do less of your work for Axa? “Dennis Duvern finally answered, given that the decision was made.” right “, Given that it was based on the results of the work of the group and the leader.
The results of the vote are currently known. 99.93% vote for a dividend of 1.54 euros. The preliminary remuneration of the CEO for 2021 was accepted by 90.86% of the vote. On the other hand, only 77.7% voted for the previous remuneration related to the increase in fixed and variable remuneration, which indicates the controversy that prevailed over this increase in wages.