AXA delivered another good set of results in the first half of 2023, reflecting the strength of our business model. We delivered robust growth in technical lines and achieved an 8%**** increase in underlying earnings per share and a return on equity of 16.6%.
We remain focused on executing our strategy, built on two pillars balanced between Commercial and Retail businesses. In P&C Commercial lines, premiums were up 9% and in P&C Retail lines, premiums were up 5%, both benefiting from a favorable pricing environment. We also continued to see good business dynamics in Employee Benefits, and a high-quality mix in our Life & Health Retail business. Today’s announcement****** of the acquisition of Laya, a leading health insurer in Ireland, will further strengthen our business.
Our distinctive franchise generated Euro 4.1 billion in underlying earnings, reflecting strong operational performance across our businesses and our ability to deliver consistent results despite a volatile environment. We continue to take actions to sustain attractive margins, including through disciplined pricing. We are on track to achieve our Group underlying earnings target for the year and we are confident in our capacity to deliver long-term revenue and profit growth.
The Group has further strengthened its balance sheet with a Solvency II ratio of 235% driven by operating capital generation and disciplined ALM that will further reduce our sensitivity to financial risks. Our asset allocation remains prudent and diversified.
We recently announced ambitious new climate targets. For the first time, the Group set decarbonization targets on its P&C Insurance portfolio. We will continue working together with our clients and stakeholders, deploying our resources to support the transition to a low-carbon economy.
I would like to thank all our colleagues, agents and partners for their commitment and support, as well as our customers for their continued trust.