Axa Investment Managers will take a 50% stake in Kyobo Investment Trust Management Company, a subsidiary of Kyobo Life and KoreaÆs seventh-largest asset manager, with around $15 billion of assets under management.

The new company will be called Kyobo Axa Investment Managers and will operate as a joint venture dedicated to asset management in Korea.

Details regarding the JVÆs key executives have yet to be finalised. A Kyobo Life spokesman says Kyobo Life will likely appoint a CFO while Axa IM will appoint the CEO and possibly other key executives.

The topic is likely to be sensitive, as labour unions in Korea can be strident about such things; some changes to Kyobo ITMCÆs personnel may occur.

For Kyobo Life (total assets: approximately $45 billion, of which $35 billion is from the general account), this is an opportunity to work beside a huge global financial group and transform Kyobo ITMC û whose business is now mainly running fixed-income assets for the parent û into a competitive player for third-party assets among both institutional and retail investors. It wants to expand its capabilities to include equities and other asset classes, leveraging Axa IMÆs international fund range and investment processes.

For Axa IM, which manages around $815 billion worldwide, the deal gives it instant distribution and a quality brand name in an important regional market. Its insurance parent is already familiar with Kyobo, having acquired its auto insurance business û and kept the Kyobo name on it.

Axa IM was attracted by the size of the Korean market û now around $400 billion û and its expected growth of 15% per annum over the next several years. This deal follows Axa IMÆs recent JVs with Shanghai Pudong Development Bank in China and Bharti Enterprises in India.

The deal remains subject to regulatory approvals but is expected to take place by the end of July.