AXA Financial, the U.S. arm of French insurer AXA Group, said Wednesday that it has agreed to sell MONY Life Insurance Company to Birmingham, Alabama–based Protective Life Corporation for $1.06 billion in cash.
The sale—which also includes the transfer of a closed book of 560,000 life insurance policies and 61,000 annuity contracts—is expected to close by October 1, pending regulatory approval. The deal does not include MONY’s distribution network or various other subsidiaries. AXA paid $1.5 billion to acquire MONY Group in 2004 from a consortium of shareholders that included Deutsche Bank.
AXA chairman and CEO Henri de Castries said in a statement that the company plans to use the proceeds from the deal to expand in the United States and to invest in high-growth markets. Bloomberg reports that Paris-based AXA has also been considering expanding in Asia and other emerging markets.
Willkie Farr & Gallagher is advising Protective Life on the transaction with a team that includes New York–based insurance partners John Schwolsky and Leah Campbell, as well as intellectual property partner Eugene Chang, compensation and benefits partner Ian Levin, and tax partner Christopher Peters. (Schwolsky joined Willkie in March 2012 as part of a 12-partner insurance transactions team that defected from Dewey & LeBoeuf in a move widely viewed as a key event in the now-defunct firm’s collapse.)
The Willkie associates working on the deal are Rajab Abbassi and Elizabeth Bannigan. Deborah Long serves as Protective Life’s general counsel.
For its part, AXA Financial has turned to Debevoise & Plimpton as its outside counsel on the sale. The firm’s long history of working with AXA Group’s U.S arm that includes advising on its purchase of MONY. Debevoise also represented AXA Financial in 2000 in connection with AXA Group’s $9.2 billion purchase of the 40 percent stake in the U.S. unit that it did not already own.
The Debevoise team working on the deal is being led by New York–based financial institutions cochair Nicholas Potter and corporate associate Marilyn Lion. Executive compensation chair Lawrence Cagney and tax partner Seth Rosen are also advising.