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Aegon strengthens Dutch capital position and reports strong 2Q 2017 results

Press release, August 10, 2017

2Q 2017 Results | AEX:AGN | NYSE:AEG

Aegon CEO, Alex Wynaendts

Significant strengthening of Dutch capital position

  • Solvency II ratio of Aegon NL increases from 144% on June 30, 2017 to ~175% on a pro forma basis as a result of EUR 1 billion capital injection from the group, the sale of UMG and risk profile enhancements
  • Dividends from business units and proceeds from divestments provide financial flexibility to inject capital into Dutch business. Aegon intends to issue EUR 500 million 1-year senior notes in 3Q 2017 to prefund expected cash inflows
  • Loss absorbing capacity of deferred taxes factor in NL set at 75% at June 30, 2017
  • Based on its solid capital position and growing capital generation, Aegon NL is expected to resume dividend payments starting with a 2017 dividend payment of EUR 100 million in 1H 2018

    Group solvency ratio increases by 28%-points to 185%

    • Agreement with regulator on amendment of conversion methodology for US business under Solvency II; leads to a 15% points uplift of group solvency ratio, increased comparability with peers and improvement in quality of capital
    • Group solvency ratio of 185% as of June 30, 2017 – including benefit from amended conversion methodology – well within new target range of 150–200%
    • On a comparable basis, solvency ratio up by 13%-points, mainly the result of divestments and capital generation
    • Capital generation of EUR 0.6 billion, including EUR 0.3 billion market impacts and one-time items
    • Holding excess capital increases by EUR 0.3 billion to EUR 1.7 billion, supported by regular dividends from US and CEE, and special dividend from Asia
    • Interim dividend of EUR 0.13 per share. Reconfirming target to return EUR 2.1 billion of capital over 2016–2018

    Net income of EUR 529 million supported by gain related to divestment

    • Underlying earnings up strongly by 23% to EUR 535 million driven by improved claims experience and higher fee income from favorable equity markets. As a result, return on equity increases by 160 basis points to 8.4%
    • Fair value items of EUR (191) million mainly due to adverse credit spread movements
    • Gain of EUR 149 million related to divestment US run off businesses supports net income; reinsurance transaction resulted in a book loss, whereas overall result includes subsequent release of deferred gains on related derivatives

    Strong sales and improved margins

    • Strong institutional platform sales in the UK lead to gross deposits of EUR 35 billion; net deposits of EUR 2.3 billion driven by asset management and UK platform flows
    • New life sales decline by 8% to EUR 224 million due to lower sales in US and exit from UK annuities
    • Accident & health and general insurance sales remain stable at EUR 230 million
    • Market consistent value of new business increases by 35% to EUR 134 million benefiting from higher interest rates

      We have announced a range of measures that significantly increase our solvency ratio, including a capital injection of 1 billion euro in Aegon the Netherlands...

      Alex Wynaendts Aegon CEO
       

      Read CEO, Alex Wynaendt's, full statement

      “Aegon’s second quarter results are strong, and reflect the continued positive momentum in our businesses and financial markets, as well as the benefit from expense savings.

      "I’m pleased that management actions are having the desired effect, particularly the marked improvement in the profitability of our US business. This improvement, together with the book gain related to the divestment of the majority of our US run-off business and related derivative positions, supports net income of 529 million euro for the quarter.

      “Today, we are also announcing a range of measures that significantly increase our solvency ratio, including a capital injection of 1 billion euro in Aegon the Netherlands and agreement with our regulator on a number of outstanding solvency-related topics.

      "These measures, together with the recently announced strategic divestments, increase our financial flexibility, strengthen our capital position and improve the outlook for capital generation – all of which give us confidence in our ability to return 2.1 billion euro to shareholders over the period 2016 to 2018.”

       

      Aegon 2Q Results KPIs

      All comparisons are against the second quarter of 2016, unless stated otherwise.

      Details on strengthening of capital position

      Significant increase of Dutch capital ratio

      The Solvency II ratio of Aegon the Netherlands is expected to increase from 144% on June 30, 2017 to ~175% on a pro forma basis reflecting a EUR 1 billion capital injection from the group in the third quarter of 2017, the recently announced sale of Unirobe Meeùs Groep (UMG), and risk profile enhancements. This will enable the Dutch business to focus on executing its strategy in order to grow future capital generation.

      Strong cash flows to the holding provide Aegon with the financial flexibility to inject capital into its Dutch business. These cash flows will come in the form of dividends upstreamed by the business units and proceeds from divestments in the second half of 2017 which are subject to customary regulatory approval. The company plans to issue EUR 500 million 1‑year senior notes in the third quarter of 2017 to prefund the expected cash inflows in order to inject the full EUR 1 billion into the Dutch business by September 30, 2017.

      After extensive discussions with the Dutch Central Bank (DNB), Aegon has also resolved a number of outstanding methodological matters with respect to its partial internal model. Following agreement on the interpretation of DNB’s guidance on the loss absorbing capacity of deferred taxes (LAC-DT), Aegon set the LAC-DT factor in the Netherlands at 75% at June 30, 2017. The LAC-DT factor will be calculated on a quarterly basis using the agreed methodology.

      The Solvency II ratio of Aegon the Netherlands is expected to be well within the updated target range of 150–190% by year-end 2017. As a result of the improvement in its capital ratio and the closing of current methodological discussions with DNB, the Dutch business is expected to be in a position to resume dividend payments to the group.

      Aegon the Netherlands intends to pay a 2017 dividend of EUR 100 million in the first half of 2018, subject to market conditions and regular governance in line with its capital management policy. Thereafter, Aegon the Netherlands will resume a pattern of interim and final dividends.

      Amendment of US conversion methodology

      Aegon has also obtained approval from DNB to amend the conversion methodology for its US business under Solvency II. This methodology is consistent with EIOPA’s guidance on how to calculate group solvency in the context of equivalence. It includes lowering of the conversion factor from 250% to 150% RBC and reducing own funds by 100% RBC requirement to reflect transferability restrictions. The methodology is subject to annual review. The change in methodology leads to an increase in Aegon’s group solvency ratio by 15%‑points, enhances comparability with European peers and improves the quality of capital. Under the new methodology restricted and unrestricted tier-1 capital as a percentage of the Solvency Capital Requirement increase significantly.

      Updated solvency target ranges

      Including the benefit from the amended conversion methodology, the group solvency ratio amounts to 185% as of June 30, 2017. This is well within the new group target range of 150–200%. The change compared with the old target range of 140–170% reflects the amendment of the conversion methodology for Aegon’s US business, and the updated Solvency II target ranges for both the Netherlands (150–190%) and the United Kingdom (145–185%). The increased target ranges for the Netherlands and the United Kingdom are part of the company’s new capital management policy. Aegon decided to update its capital management policy for its operating entities to protect the execution of the strategy, capital generation and dividends.

      Strategic Highlights

      • Aegon divests businesses to increase its financial flexibility
      • Kames Capital named Property Manager of the Year
      • Role created to drive new Transamerica workplace service model
      • Aegon launches enhanced ‘Mijn Aegon’ app to simplify self-service in the Netherlands

      Aegon’s ambition

      Aegon’s ambition is to be a trusted partner for financial solutions at every stage of life, and to be recognized by its customers, business partners and society as a company that puts the interests of its customers first in everything it does. In addition, Aegon wants to be regarded by its employees as an employer of choice, engaging and enabling them to succeed. This ambition is supported by four strategic objectives embedded in all Aegon businesses: Optimized portfolio, Operational excellence, Customer loyalty, and Empowered employees.

      Optimized portfolio

      Aegon accelerated the execution of its strategy by announcing three divestments in the past three months. The transactions increase Aegon’s financial flexibility by releasing over EUR 1 billion of capital and by enhancing Aegon’s group solvency ratio by approximately 10%-points.

      In the United States, Aegon completed the divestment of its two largest US run-off businesses – the payout annuity business and the Bank Owned / Corporate Owned Life Insurance (BOLI/COLI) business – to Wilton Re in the second quarter. Through the transaction Aegon has achieved its objective to reduce the amount of capital allocated to its run off businesses by USD 1 billion before the end of 2018. The divestment and related management actions are expected to result in a capital release of approximately USD 700 million in 2017. This capital release is expected to raise Aegon’s group solvency ratio by approximately 6% points, of which 5%-points were realized in the second quarter of 2017.

      The divestment of these run-off businesses resulted in a post-tax book gain of USD 161 million (EUR 149 million). Whereas the reinsurance transaction itself resulted in a book loss, the overall result also includes a USD 493 million (EUR 456 million) post-tax release of deferred gains related to the discontinuance of hedge accounting for certain cash flow hedges associated with the payout annuity block. Subsequent to closing the transaction on June 28, 2017, as part of its second quarter 2017 closing process, management concluded to discontinue the hedge accounting treatment for previously closed forward starting swaps that were linked to the assets transferred or sold as part of this divestment. As a consequence of the discontinuance of hedge accounting treatment, the deferred gains have been recycled from revaluation reserves to other income.

      On August 8, Aegon announced the sale of UMG to Aon Groep Nederland for EUR 295 million. UMG is a top 3 independent financial advisory group in the Netherlands, which provides advice and insurance products to both retail and wholesale customers. This transaction allows the company to focus on those businesses that are core to its strategy. The divestment is expected to result in an increase of Solvency II capital of approximately EUR 225 million, which will be retained in Aegon the Netherlands. This will improve the group solvency ratio by an estimated 2.5% points. The transaction will lead to a book gain of approximately EUR 180 million upon closing, which will be reported in Other income at the time of closing.

      On August 10, Aegon announced the sale of Aegon Ireland plc to AGER Bermuda Holding Ltd., the holding company of the European operations of Athene Holding Ltd. This transaction will further optimize Aegon’s portfolio of businesses and increase its financial flexibility. The proceeds from the divestment of Aegon Ireland, a provider of unit linked guarantee and offshore bond products predominantly in the United Kingdom, will be 81% of the Own Funds at the end of 2017. Solvency II Own Funds of Aegon Ireland were approximately GBP 200 million (EUR 220 million) per June 30, 2017. Aegon's group solvency ratio is estimated to improve by approximately 2% as a result of the transaction. Based on the book value at June 30, 2017, the book loss from this transaction is expected to amount to approximately GBP 115 million (EUR 125 million), subject to certain closing and market conditions, and will be reported in Other charges.

      Furthermore, on June 30, 2017, Aegon also completed the Rothesay Part VII transfer related to the divestment of the UK annuity book as announced last year. The completion led to a 2%-points uplift of the group solvency ratio. Aegon expects to complete the Legal & General Part VII transfer related to the divestment of the annuity book in the second half of 2017.

      Operational excellence

      Kames Capital, Aegon’s asset management business in the UK, was named Property Manager of the Year at the 2017 UK Pensions Awards. These prestigious awards recognize the highest levels of innovation, performance and service to pension schemes and their members. The judges considered a range of factors, including organizational strength, investment performance, innovation and client services. Kames was also short-listed for Fixed Income Manager of the Year, demonstrating their credentials across a range of asset classes.

      Transamerica, Aegon’s US subsidiary, announced the appointment of Scott Ramey to Head of Workplace Solutions. In this new role, Mr. Ramey will oversee Transamerica’s comprehensive workplace service model that integrates worksite, voluntary benefits and retirement plans into one integrated application.

      Through Workplace Solutions employers can offer their employees voluntary opt-in benefits, such as a first-of-its-kind hospital indemnity insurance policy Transamerica Provider SelectSM, which provide double cash benefits when employees’ hospital care is received at a treatment center designated by the employer. In addition, Workplace Solutions enables employers to offer employees supplemental health policies, long-term care insurance and retirement plans.

      Customer loyalty

      Addressing customers’ desire for simplicity, flexibility and cost efficiency in their retirement planning, Transamerica has enhanced the Transamerica Income EdgeSM living benefit rider, and launched two new lower cost investment options.

      Transamerica Income Edge is a living benefit rider available with most Transamerica variable annuities, the aim of which is to enable individuals to effectively plan their retirement. Changes to the rider include a fee reduction, together with a reduction in the waiting period from five to three years before which customers are eligible to start receiving a higher living benefit withdrawal percentage. In addition, Transamerica launched both an international and domestic index portfolio available for Transamerica Income Edge.

      In the Netherlands, Aegon rolled-out a new version of its customer app Mijn Aegon (My Aegon). The app, which is currently used by more than 150,000 Aegon customers and responsible for 35% of all self service transactions conducted online, has been enhanced to provide an even better service to its users.

      Mijn Aegon underwent extensive testing with customers in Aegon’s Customer Experience (CX) center, and now boasts several key feature updates. These include a new design that provides a more intuitive navigation experience, reduces information to only that which is most relevant for the users and an action button to quickly organize account information. Furthermore, the new app was designed on a new technical platform that will allow Aegon to add new self-service functionality faster and easier in the future, with the aim to provide customers with an even better service.

      Empowered employees

      Aegon held the first of two Hackathons for 2017, with the theme of ‘Customer Centricity: customers at the heart of our decision-making’. Consisting of twelve teams from Aegon’s offices around the world, colleagues worked together to transform their ideas into functional prototypes within 24 hours.

      The Hackathons enabled employees to work across countries, disciplines and functional lines, and share their creativity and to showcase their skills and expertise in everything from coding to finance. After 24 hours, each team pitched their idea to an international jury of Aegon managers. Five ideas in total have been selected for further exploration by various country units within Aegon.

      Operational Highlights

      Underlying earnings before tax

      Aegon’s underlying earnings before tax increased by 23% compared with the second quarter of 2016 to EUR 535 million. The increase was largely driven by a significant improvement in underwriting results in all regions, and higher fee income. This more than offset lower investment income and increased holding expenses. Adverse claims experience and negative one-time items totaled EUR 15 million in the second quarter of 2017.

      Underlying earnings from the Americas increased by 26% to EUR 341 million, mainly driven by higher fee revenue from favorable equity markets and improved claims experience. The latter reflects the benefit from management actions as part of the five part plan aimed at improving profitability in the life & health businesses. Claims experience improved by EUR 35 million compared with the same quarter last year, although it remained EUR 11 million below company expectations. The current quarter also included a EUR 15 million negative adjustment to intangible assets from lower reinvestment yields.

      Underlying earnings from Aegon’s operations in Europe increased by 21% to EUR 195 million. Higher fee income due to favorable equity markets, an improvement in non-life results and EUR 11 million positive one-time items more than offset lower investment income in the Netherlands due to prepayments and interest rate resets on mortgages.

      Aegon’s underlying earnings in Asia increased from EUR 1 million to EUR 11 million. This increase was driven by higher earnings from the High Net Worth (HNW) businesses and China, primarily as a result of business growth and favorable persistency.

      Underlying earnings from Aegon Asset Management declined by 14% to EUR 32 million, as lower expenses were more than offset by lower management fees from lower asset balances.

      The result from the holding declined by EUR 10 million to a loss of EUR 43 million partly driven by higher project related expenses and a positive one-time benefit in the same quarter last year.

      Net income

      Net income amounted to EUR 529 million in the second quarter compared with a loss of EUR 385 million last year. The current quarter results benefited from a gain related to the divestment of the majority of the US run off businesses, while last year’s results included a book loss on the annuity divestment in the United Kingdom.

      Fair value items

      The loss from fair value items amounted to EUR 191 million, as adverse credit spread movements in the Netherlands and the United States, and negative fair value changes on hedges in place to protect Aegon’s capital position more than offset positive real estate revaluations in the Netherlands.

      Realized gains on investments

      Realized gains totaled EUR 111 million, and were mainly related to the sale of corporate bonds in the Netherlands to improve the risk profile of the general account investment portfolio.

      Impairment charges

      Net recoveries amounted to EUR 2 million and reflect the continued benign credit environment.

      Other income

      Other income of EUR 291 million was mainly driven by a EUR 231 million pre-tax gain on the transaction with Wilton Re to divest the majority of the run off businesses in the United States, which closed on June 28, 2017. Whereas the reinsurance transaction itself resulted in a book loss, the overall result also includes a EUR 706 million pre-tax release of deferred gains related to the discontinuance of hedge accounting for certain cash flow hedges associated with the payout annuity block.

      Subsequent to closing the transaction on June 28, 2017, as part of its second quarter 2017 closing process, management concluded to discontinue the hedge accounting treatment for previously closed forward starting swaps that were linked to the assets transferred or sold as part of this divestment.

      As a consequence of the discontinuance of hedge accounting treatment, the deferred gains have been recycled from revaluation reserves to other income. In addition, there was a partial release of the expense reserve of EUR 82 million in the United Kingdom in relation to the divestment of the UK annuity business, in line with previous guidance.

      Run-off businesses

      The results from run-off businesses halved to EUR 10 million due to the divestment of the majority of the run-off businesses, which were derecognized as of this quarter.

      Income tax

      Income tax amounted to EUR 228 million, which implies an effective tax rate for the second quarter of 30%. The effective tax rate on underlying earnings was 27%.

      Return on equity

      Return on equity increased by 160 basis points compared with the same quarter last year to 8.4%, as a result of improved underlying earnings.

      Operating expenses

      Operating expenses increased by 8% compared with the second quarter of 2016 to EUR 1.0 billion, as a result of acquisitions in the United Kingdom and an increase in integration and restructuring expenses. Excluding the impact from these acquisitions, and integration and restructuring charges, operating expenses increased by 1% on a constant currency basis. Aegon targets to implement EUR 350 million of expense savings by year-end 2018 as part of its plans to reach a 10% return on equity by the end of 2018. Initiatives to reduce expenses have so far led to annual run-rate expense savings of approximately EUR 160 million.

      Sales

      Aegon’s total sales increased by 42% to EUR 3.9 billion in the second quarter of 2017. This was mainly the result of an increase in gross deposits by 52% to EUR 34.8 billion. The increase was primarily driven by strong institutional platform sales in the United Kingdom, which can fluctuate. In addition, asset management gross deposits increased as a result of higher gross inflows in the Americas and the Netherlands. Net deposits amounted to EUR 2.3 billion and were mainly driven by inflows in asset management and on Aegon’s platform in the United Kingdom. These more than offset net outflows in the Americas as a result of contract discontinuances in the business acquired from Mercer.

      New life sales declined by 8% to EUR 224 million. Lower term life and indexed universal life sales in the United States, and lower sales following the exit from UK annuities were partly offset by strong sales in Asia as a result of continued strong critical illness sales in China. New premium production for accident & health and general insurance increased by 2% to EUR 230 million due to favorable currency movements. On a constant currency basis the premium production was stable across all segments.

      Market consistent value of new business

      The market consistent value of new business (MCVNB) increased by 35% to EUR 134 million. The benefit from higher interest rates and strong sales in China more than offset the exclusion of mortgage sales from the MCVNB calculation and the exit from UK annuities.

      Revenue-generating investments

      Revenue-generating investments were down by 4% during the quarter to EUR 817 billion. This decrease was primarily driven by adverse currency movements and the divestment of the majority of the US run-off business, which more than offset net inflows and favorable equity market movements.

      Capital management

      Shareholders’ equity amounted to EUR 20.4 billion on June 30, 2017. The decrease of EUR 1.1 billion compared with the first quarter was mainly driven by unfavorable currency movements and the impact of the reinsurance transaction with Wilton Re, which more than offset the positive impact of market movements on revaluation reserves.

      Shareholders’ equity, excluding revaluation reserves and defined benefit plan remeasurements, decreased by EUR 0.5 billion to EUR 17.1 billion – or EUR 8.21 per common share – at the end of the second quarter, as unfavorable currency movements more than offset by retained earnings.

      The gross leverage ratio remained stable at 29.4% as retained earnings were offset by adverse currency movements.

      Holding excess capital increased by EUR 0.3 billion to EUR 1.7 billion, of which EUR 500 million was used on July 18, 2017 to redeem EUR 500 million senior unsecured notes. The increase was mainly driven by a EUR 365 million regular interim dividend from the United States, EUR 30 million regular dividends from Central & Eastern Europe (CEE), and a EUR 176 million special dividend from Asia, which were only partly offset by funding and operating expenses as well as the payment of the cash portion of the final 2016 dividend.

      Capital generation

      Capital generation of the operating units amounted to EUR 0.6 billion for the quarter. Market impacts and one-time items amounted to EUR 0.3 billion, and mainly related to derisking of the general account in the Netherlands and lower capital requirements for equity risk in the United Kingdom as a result of hedges put in place to protect fee income. Capital generation of the operating units excluding market impacts and one-time items amounted to EUR 0.3 billion in the second quarter of 2017.

      Solvency II ratio

      Aegon has obtained approval from DNB to amend the conversion methodology for its US business under Solvency II. It includes lowering of the conversion factor from 250% to 150% RBC and reducing own funds by 100% RBC requirement to reflect transferability restrictions. The methodology is subject to annual review. The change in methodology enhances comparability with European peers, leads to an increase in Aegon’s group solvency ratio by 15% points, and improves the quality of capital.

      On a comparable basis, the group solvency ratio increased by 13%-points this quarter mainly as a result of the divestment of the majority of the US run-off businesses (+5%), the completion of the Rothesay Part VII transfer related to the divestment of the UK annuity book (+2%), and capital generation including market impacts and one-time items (+6%). Including the change in conversion methodology for the US, this brings Aegon’s group solvency ratio to 185% per the end of the second quarter.

      The estimated local solvency ratios of Aegon’s main units as of June 30, 2017 were:

      • 464% RBC ratio in the United States
      • 144% Solvency II ratio in the Netherlands
      • 169% Solvency II ratio in the United Kingdom

      Interim dividend

      Aegon aims to pay out a sustainable dividend to allow equity investors to share in Aegon's performance, which can grow over time if Aegon's performance so allows. The 2017 interim dividend amounts to EUR 0.13 per common share. The interim dividend will be paid in cash or stock at the election of the shareholder. The value of the stock dividend will be approximately equal to the cash dividend. Aegon intends to neutralize the dilutive effect of the final 2016 and interim 2017 stock dividend on earnings per share in the fourth quarter of this year, barring unforeseen circumstances.

      Aegon’s Euronext-listed shares will be quoted ex-dividend on August 18, 2017, and its NYSE-listed shares will be quoted ex-dividend on August 17, 2017. The record date is August 21, 2017. The election period for shareholders will run from August 23 up to and including September 8, 2017. The stock fraction will be based on the average share price on Euronext Amsterdam, using the high and low of each of the five trading days from September 4 through September 8, 2017. The stock dividend ratio will be announced on September 13, 2017 and the dividend will be payable as of September 15, 2017.

       

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