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AEGON Reports Increase In Bond Defaults

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NU Online News Service, Jan. 18, 2:10 p.m. – AEGON N.V., The Hague, Netherlands, says it lost hundreds of millions of dollars due to bond defaults in the fourth quarter of 2001.

The company has not yet given an exact figure, but it says defaults on some of the bonds in its investment portfolio will cost enough to offset $300 million in gains on the sale of interests in two Mexican joint ventures to Citigroup Inc., New York.

AEGON announced today that it has agreed to sell its interest in the two joint ventures, Seguros Banamex AEGON, a life insurance company, and Afore Banamex AEGON, a pension fund management company, to Grupo Financiero Banamex, a Citigroup unit, for $1.2 billion.

AEGON says it will also get $40 million in 2001 dividends from the Mexican joint ventures.

After AEGON subtracts the value of its own investment in the joint ventures and an adjustment to shareholder equity, the amount recorded as income will be about $300 million, AEGON says.

The defaults affect less than 1% of the total value of AEGON bond holdings.

AEGON reported in an annual financial statement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it earned the equivalent of about $4 billion in investment income on $55 billion in bonds and other fixed-income securities in 2000. The company set aside $99 million that year to cover defaults and possible defaults.

AEGON is attributing the increased default rate mainly to the weakness of the world economy, not to any particular problems with bonds from Argentina or bonds from any one commercial borrower.

The 2001 financial statement is available on the Web, at