"Axa"

Axa

Reliance Industries and Bharti Enterprises have agreed to end negotiations over the sale of the latter's stakes in two insurance services firms, set up in a joint venture, with France's AXA. The agreement was announced on Friday. A statement by Reliance said the negotiations to acquire Bharti's 74 percent stake in the life and general insurance ventures were terminated as it was "unable to reach (an) agreement on the long-term vision and joint governance of the ventures" with AXA.

In June, Reliance industries, the country's largest listed company agreed, provisionally, to buy out Bharti's stakes, as part of its decision to move beyond its core operations in the energy industry. Neither party has disclosed any details of the transactions.

The original plan was to own, along with associates Reliance Industrial Infrastructure Ltd., 57 and 17 percent, respectively of the business in the life and general insurance organizations. Growth in the energy industry has been below expectations over the past year, prompting Reliance Industries to consider diversification into areas like telecommunications, financial services and retail.

Bharti Enterprises, which controls mobile services provider Bharti Airtel, set up Bharti AXA Life Insurance and Bharti AXA General Insurance, in 2006. In an earlier communication, the company indicated that neither venture fit in with its long-term plans but confirmed on Friday that both insurance divisions will continue to develop its operations in India. Bharti's telecom unit is currently weighed down by the weight of a $9 billion acquisition of Kuwait-based Zain Group's African mobile operations, as well as the costs of launching its own 3G network in India.

A spokesman for Paris-based AXA declined to comment.

Ahead of the announcement, Reliance shares ended down 2.5 percent in a weak Mumbai market. Bharti Airtel closed 0.9 percent lower.