In the context of its strategic partnership with Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena Group, AXA, a financial services group, has announced that it now holds a strategic interest equal to 2% of BMPS's total outstanding share capital.

The acquisition of this interest is designed to reinforce the long-term relationship between the two companies and to demonstrate AXA’s full support for Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena’s (BMPS) proposed acquisition of Banca Antonveneta. AXA will subscribe to its full allocation of BMPS shares as part of the rights issue contemplated by BMPS in connection with this acquisition.

In line with the agreement between AXA and BMPS announced in March 2007, the bancassurance agreement between BMPS and the AXA-MPS joint venture should be extended to Banca Antonveneta, significantly reinforcing AXA-MPS’s competitive position on the Italian insurance market.