Aegon net income falls 19 percent in Q4

AP News
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Posted: Feb 24, 2011 2:09 PM
Aegon net income falls 19 percent in Q4

Aegon NV, the bailed-out life insurer that does most of its business in the U.S., said Thursday that fourth-quarter earnings fell 19 percent and it will issue new shares to raise capital needed to repay Dutch state aid.

Fourth-quarter net income was euro318 million ($438 million), down from euro393 million in the same period a year earlier, mostly due to impairment and restructuring charges. Aegon is owner of Transamerica and World Financial Group.

The company said it will issue 173.6 million new shares, representing about 10 percent of the present total, to help repay the remaining euro2.25 billion it owes the state from support it received during the 2008 financial crisis.

Aegon had a market capitalization of around euro9.4 billion ($12.9 billion) Thursday. Shares fell 3.8 percent to euro5.24 in early trading in Amsterdam.

The company said it plans to pay euro750 million back to the state as soon as the share issue is completed, and the balance in June "conditional upon financial markets not deteriorating materially."

The quarterly figures include a euro208 million charge to wind down businesses selling life insurance products to highly paid executives at smaller businesses and banks.

Aegon said its "underlying earnings" _ a nonstandard measure that strips out the effect of investment gains and one-time charges _ rose around 3 percent in the fourth quarter from year ago.

The company said it plans to pay a dividend for the first time since 2008, euro0.10 for the second half of 2011, payable in 2012.

Chief executive Alex Wynaendts said the results reflected a year of "improving our risk-return profile and executing significant cost reduction."

Aegon noted it has cut its exposure from "peripheral European sovereign bonds" _ referring to bonds issued by countries such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal _ to euro1.1 billion from euro1.5 billion.

It noted it expected further charges from winding down its executive life insurance programs and selling the reinsurance arm of its Transamerica business this year, but did not indicate how large those charges might be.

(This version Corrects previous year's net income in 2nd paragraph and percentage that earnings fell in headlines and 1st paragraph.)