Romain Thomas writes from Paris that AXA Investment Managers (AXA IM), the asset management subsidiary of the French insurer Axa, is working on its return to the universe of listed index funds (ETFs) in Europe.
AXA IM did not want to comment on this information to ETF Express but says “We’ve always been pragmatic and opportunistic with regards to the evolution of our organisation, and business, adding new teams and capabilities to our set-up when there is a business rationale and alignment of interest with our clients (as recently illustrated by the creation of AXA IM Prime for instance).
“Based on this approach, we can confirm that ETFs is an area we could consider as we see that, as an investment vehicle, ETF can be attractive for our clients next to our existing range of mutual funds”.
This move would increase the presence of ETFs on the French market and could increase competition in that space. AXA IM had left the ETF business in May 2009 after the sale of EasyETF to BNP Paribas Asset Management, with which it had jointly launched it in February 2005. The March 2022 appointment of the former head of ETFs at Euronext, Brieuc Louchard, as head of capital markets, served as an indication of a possible return of Axa IM to the ETF market.
Since Axa IM exited the ETF market in 2009, ETFs continue to break outstanding records in Europe, with more than USD1.5 trillion at the end of 2021 according to a report carried out by the European Fund and Asset Management Association (EFAMA).
Right now, for example, EasyETF exceeds EUR35 billion in assets under management (AUM), compared to EUR1.3 billion in 2009, with a large range of ETFs covering three areas of expertise: ESG, smart beta and main asset classes (equities, bonds, commodities and listed real estate).
AXA IM should be able to provide a complete product management, distribution and marketing solution for asset managers to launch ETFs and ETCs into the rapidly growing European ETF market.
Demand for ETFs has been undeniably growing over recent years in Europe, mainly due to the enthusiasm of institutional investors for these liquid and low-cost products, which are bought and sold on the stock exchange as quickly as a share.
Within this context, it makes perfect sense for AXA IM to re-enter the market if one considers the huge growth potential ETFs still have. But, it is unclear whether AXA IM’s move is a tactical ploy to ensure it does not lose assets to its rivals or a more strategic push into the ETF ecosystem, after French asset manager Amundi completed in January 2022 the acquisition of Lyxor Asset Management from Société Générale creating the second largest ETF business in Europe, with EUR170 billion assets under management across more than 300 products.