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Rating Action:

MOODY'S AFFIRMS WITH A STABLE OUTLOOK AXA's Aa3 INSURANCE FINANCIAL STRENGTH RATING AND ITS A2/A3 SENIOR AND SUBORDINATED DEBT RATINGS

14 Feb 2005
MOODY'S AFFIRMS WITH A STABLE OUTLOOK AXA's Aa3 INSURANCE FINANCIAL STRENGTH RATING AND ITS A2/A3 SENIOR AND SUBORDINATED DEBT RATINGS

Paris, February 14, 2005 -- Moody's Investors Service affirmed today with a stable outlook AXA's debt ratings (senior at A2), as well as the Aa3 insurance financial strength ratings of AXA's main operating subsidiaries, saying that the group's refocusing and rationalization efforts deployed in recent years have contributed to leveraging AXA's global insurance franchise, translating into enhanced earnings stability and financial strength.

The rating agency commented that its stable rating outlook on the insurance financial strength ratings of the group's core operating units (AXA France, AXA Financial in the U.S., AXA UK, AXA Germany and AXA Belgium) reflects their leading positions in their respective markets, sound economic solvency and reserving practices, and their prospects for stable or improved underlying financial performance. These ratings also remain underpinned by strong management, superior diversification and distribution, and improved property and casualty combined ratios. The rating agency also highlighted the recovery seen in the profitability of business units which are no longer besetting the group's overall profits. In life insurance, the group is mitigating the pressure created on its financial margin by a low interest rate environment by an improved product-mix, advanced asset-liability management and higher cost efficiency. On the other hand, Moody's said that the rating outlook on AXA's Dutch operations (AXA Leven and AXA Schade) remains negative reflecting comparatively less strong fundamentals on a stand-alone basis and a less advantaged competitive positioning than the group's other operations.

More generally, AXA's ratings also reflect its prudent capital management, low risk profile, and improved operating earnings. In addition, whilst AXA's core indebtedness remains material, stronger capital formation has enabled the group to lower its financial leverage, whereas ample liquidity and prudent debt management provide good debt protection measures to the group's creditors. The recent issuance of long dated and deeply subordinated debt further demonstrate AXA's financial flexibility. Moody's also pointed to the positive trend seen in AXA's operating earnings power and its lower reliance on capital gains and lower asset impairments. The group's solvency and financial flexibility have also recovered on the back of more stable equity markets, reallocation of capital to lower risk activities, debt reduction and improved capital formation.

Tempering the group's strengths, Moody's said that AXA's major challenge will be to accelerate its sales momentum by leveraging its operational and distribution strengths despite its lack of strong bancassurance links in Europe, and to achieve further cost efficiencies. Moody's concluded that AXA remains well positioned to continue to expand its global insurance franchise, and expected the group to maintain its conservative stance in the management of its capital structure, which has benefited from higher retained earnings and more moderate financial leverage.

Moody's also said that it had assigned a final Baa1 rating to AXA's € 375 million Floating Rate Undated Deeply Subordinated Notes issued by AXA under its € 5 billion EMTN programme on October 29, 2004, reflecting the level of subordination of these securities relative to other senior or subordinated debt obligations of AXA, as well as the fact that they are intended to qualify as tier 1 regulatory capital, with regard to the capital adequacy regulations which may in the future be introduced in France. The rating agency added that the securities appear as very junior obligations because (i) they are perpetual (with a five year non call period), (ii) the deferral of interest is mandatory in case of a supervisory event, in which case deferred interest is not cumulative and the principal amount of the notes may be reduced to absorb losses to allow AXA to meet its consolidated solvency margin ratios, and (iii) in case of liquidation, the securities rank junior to all other creditors except shareholders.

Finally, Moody's has withdrawn its Insurance Financial strength ratings on AXA Direct Insurance Ltd and AXA France Collectives, entities whose obligations have now been assumed by respectively AXA Insurance UK plc and AXA France Vie following a legal reorganization.

The following ratings were affirmed with a stable outlook:

AXA -- senior debt at A2, subordinated and junior subordinated debt at A3, French commercial paper at Prime-1;

AXA Financial Inc. -- senior debt at A3, subordinated and junior subordinated debt at (P)Baa1;

AXA Financial Capital Trust I -- preferred stock at (P)Baa1;

AXA Financial Capital Trust II -- preferred stock at (P)Baa1;

AXA Financial Capital Trust III -- preferred stock at (P)Baa1;

AXA Financial Capital Trust IV -- preferred stock at (P)Baa1;

The MONY Group Inc. -- senior at A3;

Guardian Royal Exchange plc -- guaranteed senior debt at A2;

AXA France IARD -- financial strength at Aa3;

AXA France Vie -- financial strength at Aa3;

AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company. -- financial strength at Aa3 and surplus notes at A2;

MONY Life Insurance Company -- financial strength at Aa3 and surplus notes at A2;

MONY Life Insurance Company of America -- financial strength at Aa3;

AXA Lebensversicherung -- financial strength at Aa3;

AXA Versicherung -- financial strength at Aa3;

AXA Insurance UK Plc -- financial strength at Aa3;

AXA General Insurance Ltd -- financial strength at Aa3;

AXA Insurance Ltd -- financial strength at Aa3;

AXA Sun Life Holding plc -- financial strength at Aa3;

Sun Life Assurance Society Plc -- financial strength at Aa3;

Sun life Pensions Management Ltd -- financial strength at Aa3;

Sun Life Unit Assurance Ltd -- financial strength at Aa3;

AXA Belgium -- financial strength at Aa3.

The following ratings continue to have a negative outlook:

AXA Leven -- financial strength at Aa3;

AXA Schade -- financial strength at Aa3.

The following final rating was assigned:

AXA -- deeply subordinated debt at Baa1.

The following ratings were withdrawn:

AXA France Collectives -- financial strength at Aa3;

AXA Direct Insurance Ltd -- financial strength at Aa3.

AXA, headquartered in Paris, France, had total consolidated assets of € 472 billion and shareholders' funds of € 24.4 billion at June 30, 2004.

London
Simon Harris
Managing Director
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Paris
Jean-Luc Lepreux
Senior Vice President
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's France S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

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