AXA Equitable Holdings Inc. shares began trading today on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “EQH.”
AXA Equitable pointed out, in a banner hanging on the front of the exchange building, that the company has been around since 1859.
AXA Equitable executives got a few minutes of attention from retail and institutional investors around the world at 9:30 a.m., when they joined together to start the trading day by ringing the exchange bell.
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AXA S.A., AXA Equitable’s Paris-based parent, has sold just 24.5% of AXA Equitable’s stock to the public, but the company has said it intends to sell more of its stake in AXA Equitable over the next few years.
AXA S.A. executives say they want to shift the company’s focus to the property-casualty insurance industry, from the life insurance and investment management industries.
A few weeks ago, AXA said it was hoping to get at least $24 per share for the AXA Equitable stake it was selling. The company announced Wednesday it was setting the actual initial public offering (IPO) stock price at just $20 per share.
The actual IPO price gives all of AXA Equitable an estimated market value of about $11 billion.
One reason for the muted investor response to the IPO may be that, under AXA, AXA Equitable has taken a low-key approach to publicity. Operating as a stand-alone company, with its own stock and its own quarterly earnings releases, could help AXA Equitable get more attention from investors and from members of the general public.