NETHERLANDS - British Telecom has selected Aegon as the pensions provider for its 1,000 employees in the Netherlands, the telecoms firm has announced.

The company has decided to set up a collective hybrid scheme, as a combination of average salary and defined contribution.

BT's participants will also get a say in how their premiums - a yearly total of €7m - will be invested.

"They can either choose to invest their whole portfolio by themselves, or invest in a fixed mix of Aegon funds", an Aegon spokesman explained.

BT Netherlands will also contribute €55m as a one-off payment to the scheme, and will assist BT workers to compose their individual portfolios by drawing up a personal risk profile connected to an investment choice.

According to Aegon Netherlands' director Erik van Houwelingen, Aegon managed to flesh out a new scheme within two-and-a-half months, as requested by BT.

"The contract was extra complicated, as we had to cater for three different target groups, each with specific requirements," he said.

Explaining his company's choice for Aegon, Erik ter Horst, CFO at BT Benelux, also added: "We received a clear market-based offer for our two collective pension schemes, and were served by Aegon staff who properly understood our requirements."

BT Netherlands declined to state who its previous pension provider was.

Elsewhere, Aegon has reported a growth of new business to €232m during the first quarter.

The increase of new business was mainly thanks to record life sales in the UK and Poland, the firm said, as new life sales in the UK rose by 37% while net operational earnings increased by 25%.

The company's aim, to double new production in 2010, could also be reached sooner than expected, Aegon's chairman Donald Shepard pointed out.

But Aegon's first quarter net profit amounted to just €485m, down by 23% on the same period last year as a result of changes in currency rates and a one-off income of over €200m last year.

In 2006, Aegon realised an embedded value of €22.6bn, a rise of 8% compared to the previous year, it said.