POLAND - Aegon, the insurance firm, has been given the regulatory approval to merge BRE Bank's Skarbiec-Emerytura with its own Polish pension fund.

The deal was originally announced in June last year, but has now been authorised by Poland's Financial Supervision Commission (KFN).

This gives Aegon a combined pension fund of over PLN6.1bn (€1.79bn), according to data presented last month by Analizy Online, and makes it the fifth-largest pension fund in Poland through its 4.5% market share.

Under the merger agreement, Aegon will buy BRE's share of the newly-combined pension fund - a process which is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

This is part of a wider push by the Netherlands-headquartered firm into the central and Eastern European pensions markets, as the firm also announced in February it was acquiring an operation in Turkey.

Aegon now has a presence in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia along with its Turkish development.

Its biggest competitors are Aviva - currently known as Commercial Union in Poland - with a 26.6% market share, ING NNP, PZU Zlota Jesien and Axa, which is pushed into sixth place by assets and market share, once the Aegon and Skarbiec-Emerytura funds are merged and based on Analizy's March 2008 data.

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