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Aegon sees CEE growth

NETHERLANDS - Membership of Aegon's pension schemes in Hungary rose by 32% to over 628,000 last year. In Slovakia the company registered 154,000 new members to the mandatory pension fund, bringing the total to over 200,000.

Overall in central and eastern Europe, life sales were up by €82m and were particularly strong in Poland, at €60m. "Record sales in the fourth quarter were partly due to the development of the broker channel and a tied-agent network," the firm said.

Aegon also recently announced plans for a mandatory pension company with Banca Romania in 2008. In addition, it plans for a life-insurance company, which will use the bank's distribution network.

"During the coming months, we will be looking to develop ways to bring our distinct asset management capacities even closer, to better serve the evolving needs of our customers," executive chairman Donald Shepard said.

Its global sales of new products rose by 41% to €775m. This better than expected result put the company ahead of its target of €1.1bn of new business in 2010, the company indicated in its annual report.

Aegon's total new life sales increased to €3bn in total. This was mainly due to record sales in the UK, partly attributable to pensions ‘A-day', with single premium pensions sales more than doubling, it added.

As a result of Aegon's new partnerships with savings banks Caja Badajoz and Caja Navarra, new life sales in Spain more than doubled to €52m. This year, it will launch several new products, developed in anticipation to new tax rules, it said.

In the Netherlands, sales of individual and collective pension products rose by 7% to €248m. The company increased its distribution capacity by fully acquiring Unirobe, a company of independent financial advisers.

It reported net profits of €816m, and proposes a dividend of €0.55 per share, a rise of 22%.  The returns on hedge funds, limited partnerships and convertible asset bonds, contributed significantly to the earnings growth of 32% to €2.8bn, it said.

"The opportunities for pensions globally continues to be an area of primary focus for Aegon," said Shepard.

Aegon's supervisory board has proposed to appoint former transport minister and MEP Karla Peijs and Unilever chairman Antony Burgmans as new members. Peijs, who recently began his post as the Queen's Commissioner of the province of Zeeland, was board member from 1992 to 2003.

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