NETHERLANDS - Dutch pension insurers Aegon and ING are worried about the decision of the Hungarian parliament to nationalise the assets of private pension funds to plug its budget deficit.

At the start of last year, Aegon and ING had stakes of 18% and 16%, respectively, of the local pension market of approximately €10bn saved by 3m participants.

Frans Middendorff, spokesman at ING, described the situation as "unpleasant".

"We are busy reviewing our position, and are waiting for results from negotiations from our local lobbying organisation Stabilitás with the Hungarian government about whether and how we can play a role in a new set up," he said.

Aegon spokesman Dick Schiethart added: "We are also worried about the measures that have been taken in Hungary, but we can't say much about their impact yet."

He added that his company was waiting for a response from the European Commission to the letter from 13 European companies that have complained about new and "discriminatory" tax measures in Hungary.

Schiethart, however, stressed that Aegon remained committed to the Hungarian market.

Meanwhile, a mere 3% of Hungarian participants said they planned to stay with their second-pillar schemes when the deadline expired at the end of January.

According to Stabilitás, the remaining participants will loose their entitlement to the new state pension.

In a letter to the European Commission, Stabilitás called the government measure a "de facto expropriation".

Aegon and ING were among the first insurers who entered the Hungarian market in the second half of the 1990s.

Elsewhere, both insurers are also facing problems in the Polish pensions market, as the government there has decided to scale back its contributions to compulsory second-pillar schemes from 7.3% to 2.3%, also in a bid to balance its own books.

ING's Middendorff said: "We are expecting changes over there as well, but they are of a different scale, as the looming adjustments in Poland will leave the already saved assets intact."

ING, with a share of 24% the €40bn pension market, is the largest pension insurer in Poland.

Aegon's Schiethart said: "As we don't know how the measures in Poland will be worked out yet, we are monitoring the developments closely."

His company has a 5.3% stake in the Polish pension market.