Based in Paris, France, AXA SA is one of the largest insurance companies worldwide and in 2013, managed assets worth €1,113 billion. The AXA Group is well-established in the Western European, North American and Asia/Pacific markets. Present in 56 countries, with 157,000 employees and distributors, AXA operates in three business sectors: property-casualty insurance, life & savings, and asset management.
It has been ranked the Best Green Brand in the insurance industry for its environmental performance and attempts to address climate change by promoting sustainability in its insurance and investment operations.Claiming to commit to environmental and social standards as well as “showing the highest ethical standards”, AXA is a participant of the UN Principles for Responsible Investment and the United Nations Global Compact, besides being a founding member of the UN Principles for Sustainable Insurance.
AXA has integrated an evaluation of the environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance of businesses into its investment process. This screening process encourages fund managers to take into account the carbon intensity of businesses as well as the ESG performance of selected corporations to be able to reduce risks related to these issues and report on sustainability criteria. AXA identifies improved Corporate Responsibility as a key driver of growth, profitability, risk management and brand image, while claiming that the company “has always had a noble purpose that extends beyond our financial interests.” The ESG related policies of the group define minimum criteria for investments in the following sensitive sectors: controversial weapons, palm oil, agricultural land, forestry and timberland industries as well as food commodity derivatives. Yet, these environmental and human rights concerns are only considered “when appropriate or relevant”, thus constituting non-binding investment guidelines.
Defence: While claiming that “AXA has taken steps to terminate business ties with manufacturers of these weapons and/or key components”, the insurer still manages shares and bonds of Lockheed Martin, ATK and Elbit Systems totaling €185 million. Altogether “…AXA currently has an estimated US$ 3,614.44 million invested or available for the nuclear weapons producers…“.
Climate Change: AXA is highly invested in carbon-intensive companies such as Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron. This contradicts its Environmental Group Policy, which states that “Where relevant, environmental aspects are taken into account for the development of new products as well as included in the criteria we use for investment decisions”
Among the Top 5 investments in harmful companies investigated in Dirty Profits 3, AXA manages shares and bonds for companies that are heavily associated with the violation of human rights as well as issues of corruption and bribery. Especially noteworthy in this context is AXA’s investment in GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
Total Assets under management 2013: € 1,113 million1
Revenue 2013: €91,249 million2
Revenue 2012: €90,126 million3
The above policy information is taken from the Dirty Profits 3 report, published in December 2014.
AXA SA was included in the Dirty Profits 3 report, details of the financial ties to selected controversial companies can be found within the report and detailed data tables from the research period 2012-2014 can be downloaded here.