October 5, 2011 / 6:58 AM / in 6 years

UPDATE 1-AXA keeps mid-term goals, says balance sheet robust

* French insurer says can withstand prolonged market turmoil

* Receives three bids for AXA private equity unit - paper (Adds detail on private equity unit, Scor)

PARIS, Oct 5 (Reuters) - AXA SA said it was fully committed to delivering its mid-term earnings targets and said its balance sheet was “robust” as of the end of September despite the current market environment.

The French insurer also confirmed its dividend plans and said its ability to generate profits was well diversified, according to a presentation to be given by Chief Executive Henri de Castries at a banking and insurance conference on Wednesday.

AXA is targeting underlying growth of 10 percent in earnings per share by 2015 on a compound annual growth rate basis. It is also aiming for a 15 percent adjusted return on equity by 2015 and 25 percent debt gearing.

The company is also targeting cumulative group operating free cash flow of 24 billion euros ($31.9 billion) from 2011 to 2015.

“We believe that the current market environment, if prolonged, would only partly impair the expected positive earnings contributions of our strategic priorities, given the sensitivity of Ambition AXA to market conditions,” AXA said, referring to its strategy plan.

French reinsurer Scor also confirmed its targets ahead of a presentation at the conference on Wednesday, reiterating that it expects to achieve gross written premiums of 10 billion euros in 2013.

Separately, La Tribune newspaper reported that AXA had received bids for its private equity unit from U.S.-based funds KKR and TPG, as well as the Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec.

Citing an unnamed source, the paper said French investment group Eurazeo , which some had expected would be interested, did not submit a bid and that others, including U.K.-based 3i Group , could still jump into the fray.

Sources close to the situation said on Friday that potential bidders had been asked to submit first offers early this week.

AXA said in late September that it was weighing the sale of its private equity business, which analysts see as a move to help it meet stiff new capital requirements under Solvency II industry regulations.

The possible sale also comes after some of AXA’s key holdings have suffered in the recent market rout. The company holds a 5 percent stake in BNP Paribas , which has seen its share price tumble in the last three months.

La Tribune said AXA’s private equity unit could fetch 250-300 million euros, while the Financial Times put the valuation at up to 450 million euros last week.

AXA could also end up keeping a stake in the unit, an option being pushed by the unit’s current management.

AXA private equity is among Europe’s largest private equity managers, with $28 billion in assets under management. ($1 = 0.753 Euros) (Reporting by Leila Abboud; Editing by James Regan)

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