AMP's bid for AXA gets independent expert's approval

Australian insurer AMP's bid to take over rival AXA Asia Pacific has received a boost, following an independent expert saying that the $13.3 billion offer was fair and reasonable and in the best interests of AXA's shareholders.

The finding paves the way for AMP securing the support of AXA Asia Pacific's independent directors, with the proposed acquisition to come up for vote of AXA shareholders at the start of March.

Independent expert Grant Samuel ''has concluded that the value delivered to AXA APH's minority shareholders under the proposal is compelling,'' AXA APH said in a statement this morning.

Shareholders would vote on the deal on 2 March, with a court hearing on 7 March and date for completion of the deal set for 8 March, AXA said in a statement that under the proposal, each AXA AP shareholder would get 0.73 AMP shares for each AXA share, and additionally a variable cash amount based on AMP's average trading price. They would also receive a final dividend of up to 9.25 cents a share.

The independent expert further concluded, ''in the absence of a superior proposal, the proposed merger is in the best interests of AXA APH's minority shareholders.''

AXA APH today morning re-iterated that its independent directors unanimously recommend AMP's planned acquisition in the absence of a superior offer.