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AEGON To Hedge In-Force VA Contracts; May Sell Transamerica Re

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AEGON N.V. wants to reduce the level of investment risk in its U.S. variable annuity business and is looking for a buyer for its life reinsurance company, Transamerica Reinsurance.

AEGON, The Hague, Netherlands, is making the changes in an effort to cut costs and focus on the retirement and workplace savings markets, and to opportunities in markets such as Eastern Europe, Central Europe, Asia and Latin America, the company says. AEGON is still repaying a $2.4 billion bailout it received from the Dutch government in 2008, at the height of the financial crisis.

AEGON has been the fourth biggest player in the U.S. individual term life market, the sixth biggest player in the U.S. universal life market, and the 12th biggest player in the U.S. variable annuity market, according to a presentation prepared by Mark Mullin and Darryl Button, two AEGOn executives in the Americas.

AEGON has made significant progress at implementing strategies such as merging U.S. broker-dealer operations, redesigning U.S. variable annuity products and implementing a macro equity hedge, Mullin and Button say in the presentation.

The company also been shifting its focus to fee-based products, from spread-based products, and, in the future, it hopes to expand cross-selling, deepen penetration in existing channels, and continue to work to maintain a balanced risk profile by taking steps such as reducing dependence on reserve financing, de-emphasizing the sale of fixed annuities, and increasing hedging on the VA back book, the executives say.

AEGON also hopes to expand in the 401(k) plan, 403(b) plan and total retirement outsourcing markets, and to dominate the worksite distribution market, the company says.

The proposed sale of Transamerica Re is part of the same drive to realign the company.

AEGON acquired Transamerica Re in 1999 and credits the unit with helping it become a leading life reinsurer in the United States and internationally.

“However, AEGON believes that, over the longer term, there is only a limited strategic fit between Transamerica Reinsurance and AEGON’s core activities,” the company says. “Consequently, AEGON has begun exploring options for Transamerica Reinsurance, including finding a suitable buyer who would regard reinsurance as core to its business.”

Allison Bell contributed information to this report.


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