AXA Ceases Tobacco investments

Axa, the world's largest insurer, will stop investing in the tobacco industry and sell investments worth more than €1.7bn (£1.3bn).  It said investing in the sector made no sense given that smoking killed some six million people a year.

A major health insurer, Axa said its role was increasingly about prevention rather than cure. The Axa Group, which manages assets worth €1.36 trillion, will sell its €184m of shares in tobacco companies, and tobacco industry bond holdings that are valued at almost €1.6bn.

Thomas Buberl, incoming CEO of AXA said: “We strongly believe in the positive role insurance can play in society, and that insurers are part of the solution when it comes to health prevention to protect our clients. Hence, it makes no sense for us to continue our investments within the tobacco industry. With this divestment from tobacco, we are doing our share to support the efforts of governments around the world. This decision has a cost for us, but the case for divestment is clear: the human cost of tobacco is tragic; its economic cost is huge. As a major investor and a leading health insurer, the AXA Group wants to be part of the solution, and our hope is that others in our industry will do the same,

 Cary Adams, CEO of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) added: “UICC and its partners across the non-communicable disease community have worked diligently over the last few years to engage all parts of society in recognizing the disastrous social and economic effects the tobacco industry wreaks on us all. We need companies like AXA to signal that investing in an industry which kills its customers is simply the wrong thing to do; and this announcement to divest 1.8 billion euros is a milestone step in the right direction. 

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