Health IT

AXA Group acquires employee benefits management tech biz Maestro Health for $155M in U.S. expansion (Updated )

The acquisition is part of AXA’s strategy to gain a foothold in the U.S. healthcare market in a re-focus of its business model around prevention and care.

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Note: This article has been updated with comments from Rob Butler, Maestro Health CEO.

AXA Group, a global insurer and asset manager, has acquired benefits management tech business Maestro Health in a $155 million deal, according to a company statement. The acquisition represents part of AXA’s  strategy dating back to 2016 to re-orient its business model around prevention and care while also establishing a foothold in the U.S. healthcare market.

In a phone interview with Maestro Health, CEO Rob Butler observed that making the enormous U.S. healthcare system more efficient and less costly is regarded as a significant opportunity not just for entrepreneurs, but also for large non-healthcare companies in and outside the U.S. For Maestro, the deal with AXA offers the company a way to significantly scale its business not just in the U.S., where it has a nationwide presence but also in other countries.

“AXA was looking to make an entry into the U.S. market,” said Butler. “They want to build on this acquisition for the next five to ten years.” He noted that the two companies had a similar mindset and culture.

For AXA, as Chief Innovation Officer Guillaume Borie, noted in the company press release, the acquisition gives the French insurance giant a platform to build a market for its products

” It provides an attractive opportunity to build our presence in the U.S. healthcare market with a new business model that has the potential of improving healthcare quality for millions of employees.”

The deal fits with AXA’s Ambition 2020 strategy from the insurance group’s website:

We want to adapt our business model from payer to partner. This means accelerating business innovation to meet our customers’ rapidly evolving needs in the digital world and developing further in areas such as prevention and care. The success of this transformation will be based on the engagement and energy of our employees, agents and partners, adapting their capabilities to best serve our customers.

Maestro Health is a Chicago-based company founded in 2013 with a business model centered on mid- to large-sized employers in the U.S.  Maestro developed software to help employers and employees with enrollment navigation, billing and benefits enrollment. The automated system onboards new employees, and also helps them make informed decisions about procedures. The company fits into a sector of digital health that seeks to help self-insured employers bring down healthcare costs by making healthcare options easier to understand for employees with the help of healthcare navigation tools. As part of the deal, AXA plans to add its own products to Maestro’s offering, such as reinsurance and stop-loss insurance, Butler noted.

Maestro Health’s investors included Oak HC/FT and SV Health Investors,  formerly known as SV Life Sciences, according to Crunchbase’s website. They invested $65 million over several tranches, according to Butler.

AXA’s venture arm, AXA Strategic Ventures, has backed several healthcare startups in the U.S., including employee benefits manager technology business Limelight Health, but Maestro was not one of its portfolio companies.

As part of the deal, Maestro will be a wholly owned subsidiary of AXA. The deal is expected to close before the end of March.

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