POLAND - Dutch company Aegon wants to increase its presence in the Polish retirement market by acquiring another second-pillar fund.

Aegon and Polish BRE Bank have announced they have entered into exclusive negotiations on a merger of their two pension funds PTE Ergo Hestia and PTE Skarbiec-Emerytura.

With just over 440,000 members and PLN3bn (€762m) in assets, Skarbiec is among the smaller pension funds in the Polish market. According to market sources, the fund was the target of a takeover proposal made by PLN1bn OFE Polsat pension fund in January.

But pension fund mergers have proved difficult in Poland over the last years as authorities do not want a further consolidation in the market.

Referring to the the newly-merged financial supervisory authority, KNFJames Kernan of PriceWaterhouse Cooper told IPE earlier this year: "They are not going to allow mergers to go forward; they are going to stop them any way they can. The only thing that they will allow is if a new financial player wants to get into the market and buy an existing fund." The proposed merger of Skarbiec with the Aegon pension fund is subject to approval by the Polish supervisory authority KNF.

The Dutch company bought PTE Ergo Hestia last year. The fund currently has 370,000 members and around PLN2bn in assets.