SPAIN - Aegon, the Netherlands-headquartered insurer and asset manager, has taken a 50% stake in the life and pensions arm of north-eastern Spanish savings bank  Caixa Terrassa for €190m, in a bid to expand the take-up of its life and pensions offering.

The move gives Aegon access to the wealthy residents of Barcelona, according to officials, as Caixa Terrassa operates over 270 branches in the Lleida, Girona, Barcelona and Tarragona regions, and will offer its services to mortgage customers alongside their lending needs.

It also makes Aegon the sixth-largest life insurer in Spain and the firm is clearly banking on seeing significant gains from this joint venture, as it has also promised to pay a further sum to the Caixa Terrassa, based on the performance of the combined operation.

In return, Aegon will also integrate the bank's back-office into its own operations providing the deal is completed and gains regulatory approval by the fourth quarter of this year.

Much of the Spanish pensions business is still conducted through the retail market, note officials, as the occupational market has yet to really take off.

But this is the fifth such deal by Aegon with Spanish banks as it already has distribution deals in place with Caja Cantabria, CAN, Caja Badajoz and CAM.

The firm claims "strong economic growth, changing demographics and the recent focus on banassurance have transformed Spain into one of Aegon's fastest-growing businesses" so this is an especially interesting move as Aegon reported in March its new life sales were 8% down because of lower sales in Spain, and the company has been seeking to expand quickly in new pensions growth areas such as central and eastern Europe. (See earlier IPE article: Aegon's UK pension sales drop 8%)