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AXA Financial

(AXA)

said Wednesday that it has agreed to acquire fellow insurance and financial services firm

MONY Group

(MNY)

in a cash transaction valued at about $1.5 billion.

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MONY shareholders will receive $31 for each share they own, a premium of around 6% to the stock's Sept. 16 closing price.

The acquisition requires the approval of MONY's shareholders, regulatory clearance and other closing conditions. The companies expect to complete the deal in the first quarter of 2004.

AXA Financial has about $458 billion in assets under management. The company's units include Equitable Life Assurance Society of the U.S., AXA Advisors, Alliance Capital Management and Sanford C. Bernstein.

MONY has around $55 billion in assets under management. The firm's companies include MONY Life Insurance, MONY Life of America, Advest Group and Enterprise Capital Management.

Shares of MONY were gaining $2.57, or 9%, to $31.90 in after-hours trading on Instinet. The stock closed at $29.33 at 4 p.m. EDT on the

New York Stock Exchange

.