We have never asked anyone for help, says head of insurance group

AXA’s chairman Henri de Castries said 2009 would be a challenging year but warned against panicking about the economy and assured investors that AXA was financially sound.

‘The 2008 financial market turmoil was unprecedented and had a significant impact upon our industry. In this adverse environment, AXA was not immune, but remained resilient,’ the head of Europe’s second largest insurer said.

‘We have never asked anyone for help,’ Castries told Deutsche Presse, adding that in contrast to banks, insurance firms had a long-term horizon and did not constantly need refinancing.

He said he was confident in the financial flexibility and security of the insurance Group.

But he warned: ‘2009 will be another challenging year, in light of the current global economic environment.’ Our confidence in the performance of AXA going forward is supported by the increasing engagement of our employees, the trust of our clients, the financial flexibility and diversification of the Group and our operating profit resilience through turbulent times."