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Insurer loses its reserve on Optas assets

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Dutch port workers and insurer Aegon have reached a settlement following a seven-year dispute about reserved assets of the former pensions provider and commercial life insurer Optas Pensioenen.

In 2007, Optas Pensioenen was acquired by Aegon from Optas Foundation in a €1.5bn transaction.

Although the reserved assets – €770m at the time, and included in the deal –  were earmarked for pensions, there was no legal obligation to spend the assets.

For the past six years, employers and workers have jointly worked to reclaim the pension assets from Aegon.

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Under the motto “Put the money back”, and with the support of local unions, they staged demonstrations in the UK, the US and Australia.

Following the settlement, Aegon said it and the lobbying foundation for pensioners in the transport and port sector (SBPVH) would jointly request the court to free up the reserved assets.

Aegon will contribute €80m in a one-off payment to improve the pensions of 8,000 port workers, whose pensions are still insured with Aegon.

In addition, the insurer will offer an attractive rate for pension contribution and also contribute €20m as a compensation for decreased pensions accrual as a result of possible changes caused by the new financial assessment framework (FTK), said Aegon. 

According to the SBPVH, the attractive rate consists of an additional 6.5% accrual on the purchase of annuities. It added that the €20m would be available as a contribution in a new net pension savings product, for which the employer would pay tax in advance.

Niek Stam, chairman of SBPVH, said he was satisfied with the result. “Combined with the €500m from the settlement with the Optas Foundation in 2010, the agreed amount comes close to the initial value of the reserved assets,” he commented.

He added that both the participants council of Optas Pensioenen as well as employers and workers in the port sector must approve the deal first, but was confident the stakeholders would agree.

The remaining €1bn of the initial purchase amount stayed with the Optas Foundation, since renamed as the Ammodo Foundation.

On its website, the Ammodo Foundation says its aim is to support international art and science projects.

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