Warnings of AXA job losses

INSURANCE group AXA has warned of up to 500 job losses in the UK despite reporting a jump in global earnings for the first half of 2008 to 2.766 billion euros (about £2.2bn).

INSURANCE group AXA has warned of up to 500 job losses in the UK despite reporting a jump in global earnings for the first half of 2008 to 2.766 billion euros (about £2.2bn).

French-based AXA attributed the growth to a strong operational performance across all its main business lines, despite a “very challenging” trading environment.

Earnings from its AXA UK arm were even stronger, rising by 14pc to £183million compared with £160m for last year's first half.

However, the group said that plans to restructure its support functions, in line with the reorganisation of its business units over the past 18 months, were likely to result in up to 500 redundancies.

In a statement, AXA said: “The company will manage the process with sensitivity to limit the number of compulsory redundancies where possible by focusing on reducing headcount through natural attrition, redeployment and more efficient use of contractors.”

A company spokesman added that it was too soon to say which locations around the UK would be affected by the job losses, with further details likely to be announced during the final quarter of the year.

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However, he said any redundancies were likely to be widely spread, with no single location being disproportionately affected.

AXA currently employs nearly 13,000 people in the UK, including around 1,400 at its office in Civic Drive, Ipswich.

Nicolas Moreau, group chief executive of AXA UK, said: “Conditions in many property and casualty sectors remain challenging and show little sign of improvement in the short term. Despite these tough markets we have delivered a robust result for the first six months of the year because we have been resolute in following our UK strategy.”