ROMANIA - Dutch insurance and pension company Aegon has signed an agreement with Romania's Banca Transilvania to set up a pension fund management company. The new 50-50 joint-venture will become active this summer.

The main reason  behind the new joint venture, according to Aegon, is that Romania will be implementing during 2007 all necessary steps to have a fully working compulsory pension system by January 2008.

At the same time, Aegon will set up a life insurance company, with products distributed via the existing network of Banca Transilvania, and via Aegon's own channels.

The new pension company will be headquartered in the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca.

Donald Shepard, chief executive officer and board chairman at Aegon,  said  the new joint venture was being established  to enhance the group's strategy of being active in central and eastern Europe. "By the time the Romanian compulsory pension system will be in place,  the group  will have the products available to meet this new market."

Robert  Rekkers, chief executive officer  of Banca Transilvania stated that the joint-venture with Aegon will increase his bank's market position, largely by addressing new sectors such as pensions.  The formal agreement between the bank and the insurance group is to be finalized by the end of 2007.

The new joint venture fits perfectly within the framework currently set up with the new acquisition of a Polish pension company,  said Gabor Kepecs, chief executive officer,
Aegon Central and Eastern Europe.

Banca Transilvania has a 4.5% market share in Romania, putting it in fourth place overall. The bank has around 340 offices, 4,500 employees and is listed in Bucharest.

Aegon is one of the world's largest pension and life-insurance companies, with around 27,000 employees worldwide.