Aegon N.V. ('Aegon') and Sony Life Insurance Co., Ltd. ('Sony Life') today announce their intention to establish a life insurance company in Japan. The 50/50 joint venture will develop annuity products, initially focusing on variable annuity products, that will be distributed through Sony Life's Lifeplanner® channel as well as through banks and other financial institutions.
Sony Life, distinguished for its extensive 'life planning' consulting business, regards this joint venture opportunity with Aegon as a means for strengthening its 'life planning' principle by broadening the range of product offerings. The partnership between Aegon and Sony Life is expected to be operational in early 2008, subject to final agreement and regulatory licensing and approval.
"We are very excited by the prospect of combining our expertise and skills with the highly-respected brand and distribution strength of Sony Life," said Aegon Chairman and CEO Donald J. Shepard. "The Japanese market presents a significant opportunity for companies that are able to develop innovative products and services that can effectively respond to the developing need. Together we look forward to building a platform that will be the basis for ongoing collaboration in the years ahead."
"Sony Life believes that, along with life insurance products, individual annuity insurance products will be another core pillar of Sony Life's 'life planning' principle given the aging population. In pursuing our commitment as a life insurance company to protect customers throughout their lives, Sony Life has decided to establish the new company with a reputed and experienced player like Aegon in order to enhance our capability to offer cutting-edge annuity products to the customers promptly," said Sony Life President, Taro Okuda.
The annuity market in Japan has been rapidly growing, driven by variable annuity products following the deregulation of sales through banks in 2002. Variable annuity assets totaled over JPY 10 trillion (USD 85 billion) at the end of March 2006, and the sales were nearly JPY 2 trillion (USD 17 billion) in the 1st half of fiscal year of 2006 (April - September 2006). It is generally anticipated that demand for variable annuity products in Japan will continue to be strong.
Outline of the new company
Corporate name: To be discussed Headquarters: Tokyo, Japan (planned) Initial capitalization: approximately JPY 20 billion (100% basis) Corporate establishment: Within 2007 Launch of sale: Q1, 2008 Equity ownership: Sony Life 50%, Aegon 50% Management: Co-managed via 2 representative directors (one from Sony Life and the other from Aegon) Number of employees: About 60 persons (at the launch of sale)
ABOUT Sony Life
Sony Life Insurance Co., Ltd., is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Financial Holdings Inc. and accounts for the major portion of the Sony Financial Holdings Group in terms of history and scale of business. Sony Life was the first company in Japan which introduced the "Lifeplanner® system"- providing optimal life insurance products tailored to the specific needs of each and every customer based on consulting expertise by Lifeplanner® sales employees who possess advanced financial knowledge and abundant experience. Customers' satisfaction from this approach has enabled Sony Life to continue expanding its business each year since it began operations. Sony Life has requested ratings from several agencies to help customers make objective decisions concerning its ability to finance insurance and pay claims and benefits. Standard & Poor's has assigned Sony Life an A+ rating and describes the Company as offering "strong" insurer financial strength. Moody's Investors Service has assigned an Aa3 rating and describes the Company as offering excellent financial security (both as of June 2006).
Profile (as of the end of September 2006 and in Japanese statutory accounting principle unless otherwise stated): Establishment: August 1979 Capitalization: JPY 65 billion Employees: 5,264 (including 3,804 Lifeplanner®) Total assets: JPY 3,204 billion Insurance policy in force: JPY 29,674 billion (the sum of individual life insurance and individual annuities) Income from insurance premiums and others: JPY 290 billion (in the 1st half of the year of FY 2006) Fiscal year: April1 to March 31
('Lifeplanner' is a registered trademark of Sony Life Insurance Co., Ltd.)