Bloomberg News

PARIS — AXA SA, Europe’s biggest insurer, and Deutsche Bank AG, its largest bank, have suspended talks on a proposed international distribution partnership, AXA spokesman Christophe Dufraux said.

AXA had been talking about a partnership with Deutsche Bank to gain more access to the German market. The insurer has said it doesn’t believe it needs to buy a bank to distribute its products, and that it prefers to form partnerships. Mr. Dufraux didn’t say why or when the talks had been suspended.

“It’s slightly negative news, as AXA clearly still lacks some distribution in Germany,” said Andrew Goodwin, an analyst at Commerzbank Securities who recommends investors buy AXA shares. “It seems they didn’t have enough to offer Deutsche.”

The insurer owns more than 90% of Cologne-based AXA Colonia AG. Still, it wants to increase its presence in Europe’s largest insurance market, which has premiums of about $110 billion a year. The nation’s parliament this month passed a law granting tax breaks and subsidies for private pensions, paving the way for as many as 20 million Germans to invest in new retirement plans from 2002.

Germans are forecast to put as much as $470 billion into pension plans and mutual funds through 2008, according to Morgan Stanley Dean Witter.

AXA Colonia plans to spend $193 million through 2003 to raise life insurance sales and widen its distribution network. AXA chief executive Henri de Castries said in March that Deutsche was “one of many possible partners in Germany.” AXA spokesman Dufraux said talks are continuing with other potential distributors in Germany. He declined to name those companies.

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