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Aegon on right track, despite financial crisis, CEO tells analysts

June 9, 2009

CEO Alex Wynaendts has told analysts and investors that Aegon remains committed to the long-term strategy it announced a year ago, despite the global financial crisis.

Speaking at Aegon’s two-day Analyst & Investor Conference in London, Mr. Wynaendts said the strategy has “served us well during the last twelve months”.

He said it was the “right strategy, at the right time, for the right opportunities”.

“In many respects the crisis did not require us to change course, but only to shift gears,” he said.

Aegon first unveiled its long-term strategy – ‘Unlocking the Global Potential’ – in June 2008. But the financial crisis has meant the company in recent months has had to focus on shorter-term objectives: to reduce risk, lower operating costs and release additional capital.

In particular, Aegon has accelerated efforts to free up capital from its existing businesses – a key part of the company’s long-term strategy and a way of combating the effects of the financial crisis.

In the second half of 2008, Aegon released a total of EUR 2.6 billion in capital – and is planning to free up a further EUR 1.5 billion this year.

In his presentation, Mr. Wynaendts said these measures – along with EUR 3 billion secured last year from the Dutch State – had helped Aegon maintain a “strong capital position”, despite very difficult market conditions. 

He said it was Aegon’s aim to repay an initial installment of EUR 1 billion to the Dutch government by December – providing it is “feasible and the responsible thing to do for all our stakeholders”.

Speaking to the conference in London, Mr. Wynaendts said Aegon would continue to focus on the three priorities he outlined as part of the company’s long-term strategy in June last year:

  • Reallocating capital to areas of stronger growth
  • Improving returns from the company’s existing businesses
  • Managing Aegon more as an international group.
  • He said significant progress had been made in each of these areas, but acknowledged that Aegon needed to refine its long-term strategy “in light of the crisis”.

As part of that, he said Aegon would reassess the medium-term financial targets the company announced a year ago. New targets, he added, would be set once the market environment had become “more stable”. He also said Aegon would not be entering new countries, but would focus its attention instead on existing businesses that offer the highest returns.

During his presentation, Mr. Wynaendts told analysts and investors that Aegon now has “significant capacity to withstand further shocks in the markets, if they occur”. He warned, however, that the outlook for the remainder of 2009 remains “uncertain”, despite an improvement in financial markets in the early part of this year.