AXA is a world leader in financial services with operations in Western Europe, North America and the Asia Pacific area. The group services 50 million customers throughout the world and has approximately 110,000 employees and distributors worldwide, working in some 50 countries. AXA reported an 18 per cent increase in its annual profit in February 2007 and announced that last year’s £5.3 billion acquisition of Winterthur from Credit Suisse would yield more financial benefits than expected. The French group said that its net profit was €5.085bn in 2006, up from €4.318bn in 2005.

The financial giant signed a £1bn, six-year services deal with IBM in 2003 and relies on CDC’s Respond customer feedback management software. AXA is also using vulnerability management technology from IT supplier Qualys to audit its security controls for Sarbanes-Oxley directives.

AXA expects the technology to audit all its IT systems and alert areas where the company is failing to comply with the group’s IT security policy.

The company is also using technology from Qualys to automatically detect vulnerabilities in its computer network, which could expose the firm to viruses, internet worms and hackers.

In a move designed to augment AXA UK’s provision of personal lines of insurance direct to consumers, the organisation announced in February 2007 that it would acquire UK-based 100 per cent online insurer Swiftcover.com.