NU Online News Service, April 8, 2003, 6:32 p.m. EDT – U.S. rating agencies have lowered the insurance financial strength ratings of the main insurance units of two large Dutch financial services companies one notch.

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, New York, cut the insurance ratings of the main European and North American insurance operating units of AEGON N.V., The Hague, Netherlands, to AA, from AA plus.

Moody’s Investors Service, New York, reduced the insurance ratings of the main Dutch and U.S. insurance operating units of ING Groep N.V., Amsterdam, to Aa3, from Aa2.

S&P emphasizes in the release announcing the AEGON rating cut that AEGON still has very strong positions in the United States, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

“The risk profile is low given the strong focus on life and pensions business at more than 80% of group revenues,” S&P says. “The AEGON USA group of companies is distinguished by an exceptionally broad array of life insurance products and services, extremely strong consolidated capital, and a high degree of sophistication in both its asset management and asset-liability management.”

S&P notes that AEGON raised more than $2 billion in 2002 to compensate for credit losses, strengthen reserves and accelerate amortization of deferred acquisition costs.

Moody’s says in the release announcing the ING rating cut that earnings at the parent company and the ING insurance companies remain strong.

The ING cut reflects the effects of recent acquisitions and the world stock market slump, Moody’s says.