NETHERLANDS – Aegon has launched a pension fund company in Slovakia, the life insurer said in a quarterly update.

Reporting a three percent rise in third quarter net income to 448 million euros, which was better than expected, Holland’s second-largest insurer said activities in the new EU member state of Slovakia had shown “a promising first year”. Aegon said it had just launched a pension fund there to broaden its activities.

Slovakia is in the midst of overhauling its entire pensions system with the introduction of a second-pillar privately funded plan alongside changes to its existing first and third pillar systems.

Aegon further said higher results for the first nine months of 2004 reflected its “continued focus” on profitable growth and commitment to its core businesses in life, pensions, savings and investment products. All major country units contributed to strong growth in earnings.

In the UK, Aegon said growth in its core individual and group pensions businesses was partly offset by a fall in asset management institutional sales. Aegon’s UK business generates eight percent of sales. It reported a 20% rise in income before realised gains and losses on shares and real estate in the third quarter.

In the Netherlands, which generates more than one-fifth of total sales, income (before realised gains and losses on shares and real estate) rose 35% to 263 million euros.