COLUMBUS, Ga., Sept. 17, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Aflac Incorporated (NYSE: AFL) announced today that as part of its overall corporate venture strategy, the company is increasing its original investment in the Aflac Ventures Fund from $100 million over three years to $250 million over three to four years, as opportunities emerge.
To date, the Aflac Ventures Fund has made eight investments in mainly early-stage companies both in Japan and the U.S., with individual investment size ranging from $1 million to $6 million and ownership stakes from 3% to 14%. In addition to equity investments, in most cases Aflac U.S. and Aflac Japan maintain commercial relationships with target companies in support of mutual growth initiatives.
Commenting on the announcement, President of Aflac Corporate Ventures Nadeem G. Khan said: "We are pleased with the investments made to date, as well as their growth prospects and application to our core business. Our focus continues to be on growth-stage, innovative and scalable companies. As we increase the fund size, we are diversifying into later-stage deals and fund-of-fund opportunities. This supports our overall strategy to invest in companies with missions relevant to Aflac's core business and restates our commitment in this space. This also provides greater market reach and drives deal flow by building partnerships with the start-up ecosystem and other corporate and strategic investment groups."
Aflac Ventures Fund is a subsidiary of Aflac Corporate Ventures. In addition to funding activities, Aflac Corporate Ventures is the holding company for Empowered Benefits, acquired by Aflac in 2015 and rebranded as Empowered to denote its recently broadened scope. Empowered is a technology company located in Charlotte, N.C., that provides cloud-based benefits administration and exchange platform solutions to insurance carriers, brokerages and employers. Empowered specializes in the benefits administration space and is the technology engine powering Aflac's Everwell enrollment platform in the U.S. Empowered recently expanded its technology center to include digital innovation and the development of growth opportunities in the digital distribution space. Aflac Ventures maintains offices in Charlotte, N.C.; Sunnyvale, Calif.; and Tokyo, Japan.
Also commenting on the announcement, Aflac Incorporated Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Frederick J. Crawford said: "The central mission of Aflac Corporate Ventures is to support the organic growth and business development needs of Aflac Japan and Aflac U.S. with emphasis on digital applications designed to improve the customer experience, gain efficiencies, and develop new markets in an effort to enhance and defend long-term shareholder value. From a fund perspective, it's all about getting in on the ground level to incubate businesses, innovate technologies and captivate consumers with great experiences as these early-stage companies continue to mature. In terms of Empowered, it is a technology based platform that is agile and capable of incubating and accelerating go-to-market growth strategies serving our core markets."
ABOUT AFLAC When a policyholder gets sick or hurt, Aflac pays cash benefits fast. For more than six decades, Aflac insurance policies have given policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress. In the United States, Aflac is the leader in voluntary insurance sales at the worksite. Through its trailblazing One Day Pay(SM) initiative, for eligible claims, Aflac U.S. can process, approve and electronically send funds to claimants for quick access to cash in just one business day. In Japan, Aflac is the leading provider of medical and cancer insurance and insures 1 in 4 households. Aflac insurance products help provide protection to more than 50 million people worldwide. For 12 consecutive years, Aflac has been recognized by Ethisphere as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies. In 2018, Fortune magazine recognized Aflac as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work for in America for the 20th consecutive year and included Aflac on its list of World's Most Admired Companies for the 17th time. Aflac Incorporated is a Fortune 500 company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AFL. To find out more about Aflac and One Day Pay(SM), visit aflac.com or aflac.com/espanol.
FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 provides a "safe harbor" to encourage companies to provide prospective information, so long as those informational statements are identified as forward-looking and are accompanied by meaningful cautionary statements identifying important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those included in the forward-looking statements. The company desires to take advantage of these provisions. This document contains cautionary statements identifying important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected herein, and in any other statements made by company officials in communications with the financial community and contained in documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Forward-looking statements are not based on historical information and relate to future operations, strategies, financial results or other developments. Furthermore, forward-looking information is subject to numerous assumptions, risks and uncertainties. In particular, statements containing words such as "expect," "anticipate," "believe," "goal," "objective," "may," "should," "estimate," "intends," "projects," "will," "assumes," "potential," "target", "outlook" or similar words as well as specific projections of future results, generally qualify as forward-looking. Aflac undertakes no obligation to update such forward-looking statements.
The company cautions readers that the following factors, in addition to other factors mentioned from time to time, could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated by the forward-looking statements: difficult conditions in global capital markets and the economy; exposure to significant interest rate risk; concentration of business in Japan; foreign currency fluctuations in the yen/dollar exchange rate; operation of the former Japan branch as a legal subsidiary; limited availability of acceptable yen-denominated investments; deviations in actual experience from pricing and reserving assumptions; ability to continue to develop and implement improvements in information technology systems; governmental actions for the purpose of stabilizing the financial markets; interruption in telecommunication, information technology and other operational systems, or a failure to maintain the security, confidentiality or privacy of sensitive data residing on such systems; ongoing changes in the Company's industry; failure to comply with restrictions on patient privacy and information security; extensive regulation and changes in law or regulation by governmental authorities; changes in tax rates applicable to the company; defaults and credit downgrades of investments; ability to attract and retain qualified sales associates, brokers, employees, and distribution partners; decline in creditworthiness of other financial institutions; subsidiaries' ability to pay dividends to Aflac Incorporated; decreases in the Company's financial strength or debt ratings; inherent limitations to risk management policies and procedures; concentration of the Company's investments in any particular single-issuer or sector; differing judgments applied to investment valuations; ability to effectively manage key executive succession; significant valuation judgments in determination of amount of impairments taken on the Company's investments; catastrophic events including, but not necessarily limited to, epidemics, pandemics, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, war or other military action, terrorism or other acts of violence, and damage incidental to such events; changes in U.S. and/or Japanese accounting standards; loss of consumer trust resulting from events external to the Company's operations; increased expenses and reduced profitability resulting from changes in assumptions for pension and other postretirement benefit plans; level and outcome of litigation; and failure of internal controls or corporate governance policies and procedures.
The estimated impact of tax reform, which is included in GAAP net income and equity, but excluded from adjusted earnings as defined, is a preliminary estimate and may be adjusted for the current and future periods, possibly materially, due to, among other things, further refinement of the company's calculations, changes in interpretations and assumptions the company has made, tax guidance that may be issued and actions the company may take as a result of tax reform.