French insurer AXA and its regional division AXA Asia Pacific Holdings have confirmed plans to expand the insurer's presence in the rapidly growing Chinese and Indian markets, Reuters has reported.

<p>According to the news provider, AXA&#0039;s Chinese joint venture, AXA Minmetals Assurance, has been given the green light to establish an office in Foshan and satellite offices in Panya and Huadu, in Guangdong. At present, the insurance firm has outlets in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. <br /><br />Furthermore, the group is planning to extend its network in India, where it has a joint venture with Bharti Enterprises, with an ambitious target to reach 20 cities, up from the current six, by the end of 2007. <br /><br />In an interview with Reuters, Mark Pearson, regional chief executive of life insurance for AXA Asia Pacific, stated that he anticipates the Indian business to grow rapidly as it already holds a national license in a market with a fast growing middle class and low penetration rates for insurance policies. <br /><br />We&#0039;ve grown from 6,000 agents to more than 11,000 (regionally) in the past year and with the opening of India we should continue to see very strong growth, Mr Pearson told Reuters. <br /><br />He also indicated an interest in Taiwan and South Korea during the interview, where AXA Asia Pacific currently does not have operations.</p>