Attention ASX Company Announcements Platform Lodgement of Open ...201032823842 by lindash


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									               Attention ASX Company Announcements Platform
                         Lodgement of Open Briefing®

AXA Asia Pacific Holdings Limited
447 Collins Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000

Date of lodgement: 03-Aug-2006

             Title: Open Briefing®. AXA Asia Pacific. Les Owen not to renew his contract

             Record of interview:

             You have announced that you have informed the Board of AXA APH that you do
             not intend to renew your contract when it expires on 31 December 2006. Can you
             elaborate on the reasons for this?

             Group CEO Les Owen
             Yes. I was Chief Executive of AXA Sun Life in the UK for 4 years before moving
             to Australia at the beginning of 2000, and I have been the Group Chief Executive
             of AXA Asia Pacific Holdings for over 6½ years. I will be 58 early next year and,
             basically, I have decided that the time is right for a change and that I would like to
             do something different over the next few years. When we moved to Australia our
             children did not come with us and they have remained in the UK. For personal
             and family reasons we would like to spend more time in the UK than is consistent
             with continuing in my current role. The decision is entirely mine. I have very
             much enjoyed the last 6½ years and I’m not leaving without a number of regrets
             but, as I said, I think the time is right for a change.

             Does the non-renewal of your contract imply anything about the intentions of
             AXA SA in respect of AXA Asia Pacific?

             Les Owen
             No – not at all. As I have explained, the decision is entirely mine. As you would
             expect, I have no more knowledge than the market on AXA SA’s intentions.

    Do you have plans to remain in Australia, and do you intend to seek further
    management or Board roles in Australia?

    Les Owen
    I have become an Australian Citizen so I do remain committed to Australia.
    However, as I have said, all our family are in the UK and, in future, we will intend
    to spend more time in the UK than my current role allows. I do expect, though, to
    be spending a significant proportion of my time in Australia in the future. I am not
    looking for another full time executive role in the financial services industry.
    However I am not retiring – I have still got a lot of energy. I would be interested
    in looking at non-executive directorship roles in Australia and in the UK and
    possibly getting involved on a part-time or non-executive basis in private equity.
    Will you be remaining with the AXA Group globally in any capacity?

    Les Owen
    I am not taking up a full time senior executive position in the AXA Group.
    Why hasn’t the Board appointed a successor, and when will that appointment be
    made? Will AXA SA be advocating a successor from its range of global

    Les Owen
    We have strong management teams in Australia/New Zealand and in Asia. As
    such the Board anticipates that there will be an internal successor and a further
    announcement in this respect is likely to be made within a few weeks. As you
    know we have a strong and high performing senior executive team which has been
    stable over a number of years. Clearly the Board and AXA SA are very familiar
    with our senior team and are well aware of their capabilities. We have well
    developed succession plans which the Board and AXA SA reviews regularly. The
    Board will be making a decision soon and a further announcement is likely to be
    made within a few weeks.
    Andy Penn has returned to his role of CEO Australia & New Zealand – can you
    elaborate on his appointment and the issues that were being investigated by

    Les Owen
    We announced yesterday that Andy was being re-appointed to his previous role as
    Chief Executive – Australia & New Zealand. Andy has made a great contribution
    to AXA APH’s growth over the last few years and I am delighted that he is
    returning to his role. At this stage we’re unable to make any further comment on
    this or the background to it.

    Are you putting forward a recommendation to the Board in respect of your

    Les Owen
    The decision on my successor is one for the Board. I won’t be putting forward a
    recommendation as such but the Board has sought my views on the capabilities of
    everyone in our senior management teams and I will be involved in the Board
    discussions over the next few weeks.
    When will you actually depart the company, and how do you see the transition to a
    new Group Chief Executive Officer occurring?

    Les Owen
    I have announced that I will not be extending my contract when it expires on 31
    December 2006. When the Board has made a decision on succession we will look
    at the appropriate transition arrangements. As I said earlier we have a strong and
    stable senior executive team within AXA APH. Everyone in our team is very
    experienced in the industry and very familiar with our strategy and with the AXA
    6 and Asia 6 goals. Because of this, I think the transition will be seamless.
    What has given you the most satisfaction from your role as Group CEO of AXA
    APH during the past 7 years?

    Les Owen
    There are many things but the ones that immediately come to mind are the success
    that I believe we have had in changing the culture in Australia and New Zealand
    from that of a sleepy mutual to one that is now focused, achievement orientated
    and performance driven. Obviously the K5 change programme played a pivotal
    role in that. What also gives me great satisfaction is that, although I had to make a
    large number of changes to personnel over the first 12 months, once the senior
    management team was settled it has been stable and very committed to the
    company and to our objectives over the last 5 years. I am proud of the team we
    have and what we have achieved. And perhaps the other thing I would mention is
    the fact that, it seems to me, the view of AXA APH in the investment markets is
    fundamentally different than it was when I took on the role.
    In what areas would you have liked to achieve more?

    Les Owen
    Well, as you know, I am someone who is rarely satisfied and always demands
    more, so I guess there are quite a few. I think in retrospect I did not, in the early
    days, pay as much attention to our business in New Zealand as I should have and
    that was slower to see the culture change that we saw in Australia. We have been
    in China for over 7 years now and the business and market environment has been
    more difficult than we originally anticipated. Having said that it is better, in my

    view, to go for slower, lower risk growth than to invest large amounts of capital in
    a market where there remains a number of structural issues. Perhaps the other one
    I would mention is that I don’t think we, and indeed the life insurance and wealth
    management industry generally, has yet done enough to change the mindset of the
    media, and to some extent the regulators, on what is really needed to grow long
    term savings, what consumers actually want and value in relation to retail financial
    products and advice, and how we really get savings ratios moving in the right
    Given the company is still working on the AXA6, Hong Kong 6 and Asia 6
    programmes -would you anticipate any changes to strategy or targets following the
    new appointment?

    Les Owen
    There are always some changes when a new Chief Executive takes over, but all
    our senior management team are, as you know, totally committed to meeting these
    goals. They’re embedded throughout the organisation in everything we do –
    prioritisation, execution, remuneration systems and external communication. I am
    sure my successor will be completely committed to delivering these.
    AXA APH has produced results that are towards the top end of market
    expectations for the 6 months to 30 June 2006. What do you see as the main
    drivers of the earnings strength, and how sustainable are these drivers?

    Les Owen
    Clearly our results, particularly in Australia, have benefited from some positive
    market factors such as the strong equity markets over the last 2 or 3 years and the
    removal of the superannuation contributions surcharge.            However, more
    fundamentally, I think, our results are the consequence of the focusing and
    repositioning of our business over the last few years, and the results of our very
    strong management, execution and governance disciplines. I think we have a
    number of strengths – clear focus on our business of wealth management and
    financial protection and membership of the global AXA Group. In Australia and
    New Zealand our scale positions right across the value chain and the excellent
    investment performance we’re enjoying through our joint venture with
    AllianceBernstein. In Asia we are benefiting from the work in recent years in
    building a regional platform and de-risking and improving the quality of the
    smaller businesses. We have high quality and – very importantly – stable senior
    executive management teams. Sitting above all this we have our AXA 6 and Asia
    6 aspirational goals which provide a clear definition of what success looks like,
    and underpinning it we have strong programme and governance processes to
    minimise the risk of making big mistakes whether it be in large project
    implementation, product design and pricing, or financial and expense control.
    And I also think that success breeds success. Six years ago I think people were
    used to mediocre performance and therefore accepted mediocre performance as
    the norm. That is not the case now. All our management share in the pride of the
    success we have had in recent years and that creates hunger for more success. I
    think these are the drivers and they are sustainable.

    Thank you Les.

    For further information on AXA Asia Pacific Holdings Limited please visit or call Ronn Bechler, Group Manager Investor
    Relations +61-(0)3 9616 3322.

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