AXA has strengthened its hold in Germany after buying a significant chunk of Tecis, a financial services firm.
The deal more than doubled its holding from about 5% to 10.2%.
Reports indicated that AXA's chief saw the move as an investment.
However, analysts believed it could have had strategic motives as well.
Managers and founders of Hamburg-based Tecis own about 30% of the firm. This makes it difficult to wrestle control away from the managers without their cooperation.
AXA is already the fourth-largest insurer in Germany.
Last year the company was in talks with Deutsche Bank over a bancassurance deal. But the talks broke down.
The group's strategy in the UK and the composition of the board is discussed on page 6 in an interview with AXA Insurance chief executive Peter Hubbard.