Aegon Said to Explore Sale of Transamerica Business in Asia

Aegon Is Said to Explore Sale of Transamerica Business in Asia

Aegon NV is exploring a sale of its Transamerica business in Asia as it pushes ahead with plans to exit non-core markets, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Netherlands-based insurer has asked an adviser to help find a buyer for the unit, which offers a range of insurance and savings products to high-net-worth clients in Hong Kong, Singapore and elsewhere, the people said. The Asia operation could fetch at least $700 million in any sale, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information.

A formal process could begin as soon as the coming weeks, one of the people said. Deliberations are in the early stages and Aegon could still decide to keep the business, according to the people. A representative for Aegon declined to comment.

Shares in Aegon rose as much as 2.6% Monday. The stock was up 1.7% at 1:27 p.m. in Amsterdam, giving the company a market value of 8.5 billion euros ($10.3 billion).

Aegon joins other European insurers, including AXA SA and Aviva Plc, in seeking to exit peripheral businesses and focus on core geographies. Chief Executive Officer Lard Friese, who took on the role almost a year ago, has already overseen the sale of Aegon’s central and eastern European operations to Vienna Insurance Group AG in an 830 million-euro deal.

At an investor day in December, Aegon outlined plans to focus on businesses in the Netherlands, U.K. and U.S. and growth markets in Brazil, China, Portugal and Spain, as part of ongoing efforts to revive what had been flagging share price performance in recent years. The value of Aegon stock has risen 30% since Friese took charge.

Aegon acquired Transamerica in 1999 in what remains its largest-ever purchase. The brand is well-known in the U.S., where the Transamerica Pyramid skyscraper is an iconic fixture of the San Francisco skyline. The company provided Walt Disney Co. with a loan to complete the 1937 film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, according to Aegon’s website.

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