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Aegon hits the ground running in India

Mumbai, India, August 21, 2008

Aegon’s new life insurance joint venture in India has opened for business, marking a further step in strengthening the Group’s presence in Asia.

“At the end of 36 months, we may not have the highest number of agents, but we will have the most productive,” he said, promising a fresh approach to customer service and a resolute focus on “productivity and profitability”.

Speaking in Mumbai, Mr. Jamkhedkar said that by the end of its first year Aegon Religare Life Insurance expects to have 60,000 customers and to have generated some Rupees 1 billion – almost EUR 16 million – in new business.

With the new joint venture, launched officially on August 12th, Aegon now has businesses in four countries across Asia: China, Taiwan, Japan and India.

As elsewhere in Asia, economic growth and rising levels of personal wealth are leading to a surge in demand in India for life insurance, pensions and other long-term savings and investment products.

Over the coming years, household income in India is forecast to rise by an average of 5% a year – a higher rate of increase than almost any other market, with the exception of China.

Since it was opened up to competition in the late 1990s, India’s insurance sector has been growing at approximately 25% a year.

Aegon Religare Life Insurance will begin with 38 branches in 32 cities across India, rising to 51 branches over the next twelve months. In addition, the joint venture will also take on some 6,000 agents and use Religare’s own 600 outlets to help sell its range of life insurance products across the country. 

During the first year, Aegon Religare Life Insurance will have access to Rupees 3.7 billion in capital – just over EUR 58 million. Most of the money will be invested in branches and new technology.

The joint venture is 44%-owned by Religare, with Aegon holding 26% - the most the Group is allowed under Indian regulations – and Bennett & Coleman, a private investor, the remaining 30%.

Earlier this year, Aegon and Religare also got the go ahead from India’s Securities & Exchange Board for a separate asset management joint venture.