NETHERLANDS - Aegon has reached agreement to acquire its fellow-life insurer and group pension specialist, Optas in a €1.3bn transaction.

The acquisition will strengthen Aegon's top two position in the group pension market in the Netherlands. Optas' strong penetration with companies and workers in the port of Rotterdam and Amsterdam will allow Aegon to widen its overall client base, it said.

According to Aegon, Rotterdam-based Optas - the successor of the industrywide pension fund for the transport and port industries - has 60,000 policyholders and total assets of €4.3bn.

"Taking into account the excess capital of Optas, the net consideration is estimated to be approximately €100m," Aegon explained.

"A portion of the shareholders' equity of Optas is subject to restrictions, which assure continued fulfilment of existing policy obligations. They will remain in force after the acquisition," the company added.

"Optas has a unique position in the Dutch ports," Aegon Netherlands' chief executive officer, Johan van der Werf said. "We would like to leverage its pension expertise, to further strengthen the two companies' pension activities."

Already a few years ago, Optas had decided it had to find a strong partner in the group pensions business, its managing director Pieter Rietbergen indicated. "Aegon's broad distribution capabilities and good relationships within the IFA channel were additional important considerations for us."

The acquisition agreement is subject to consultation of the Works Councils of both companies, as well as the approval of the relevant regulatory authorities.

Upon completion of the transaction, Optas will become a subsidiary of Aegon Netherlands. The transaction is not anticipated to lead to forced redundancies, Aegon said.

The Hague-based Aegon is one of the world's largest life insurance and pension companies. It serves millions of customers in over twenty markets - with major operations in the Netherlands, the UK and the US - and it employs 29,000 staff worldwide.