(Photo: Michael Sohn/AP)

AXA S.A. is jumping into the U.S. benefits administration market.

The Paris-based insurer has agreed to acquire Maestro Healthcare Technology Inc., a Chicago-based benefits administrator, for $155 million. AXA hopes to complete the deal by March 31.

(Related: Annuity Issuers Size Up Benefits M&A Market)

AXA is a major provider of private health insurance outside the United States, but it’s best known in the United States as a life insurance and annuity issuer.

Maestro, which was founded in 2013 and is backed by private investment firms, has about 300 employees.

Maestro aims at large employers with self-funded health plans. The company and its maestroEDGE private exchange system serve about 500 groups with 1 million covered lives.

The company can handle benefit plan enrollment, health plan administration, wellness program and chronic condition program management, health savings account (HSA) administration, benefits product billing, and Affordable Care Act compliance services.

Maestro will keep its name after the deal is completed and operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of AXA, Maestro says.

Guillaume Borie, AXA’s chief innovation officer, said in a statement that AXA likes the idea of pursuing a population health management strategy in the U.S. market.

The Maestro deal “provides an attractive opportunity to build our presence in the U.S. health care market with a new business model that has the potential of improving health care quality for millions of employees,” Borie said.

AXA’s deal announcement comes on the heels of Tata Consulting’s move to jump into the U.S. insurance administration market by setting up a large administration program for Transamerica.

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