Aegon Life may be a young entrant in the Indian market but it comes with an extensive legacy of 173 years in insurance and financial services. Its roots can be traced to the Netherlands where it once provided modest burial funds to people, fast forward to today and Aegon is one of the world’s leading insurance firms.
From small steps to giant leaps, here is a look at Aegon’s amazing journey.
Aegon had a humble start to its long journey. It used to provide burial funds for funerals so people could bury their loved ones, in Holland. However, at that time, it went by the name of Algemeene, the oldest of the original companies that would go on to form Aegon.
Come 1845, De Groot-Noordhollandsche entered the picture and Eerste Nederlandsche in 1882. (Try saying those two names?!) Along with these two companies, Nillmij, which served civil servants and military personnel in the Dutch colony, entered the group.
This, however, was just the start. Seeing the potential, many more life insurers, health insurers, and funeral funds joined hands in what would one day become a giant in the insurance world.
The second phase of Aegon’s journey saw a halt due to the outbreak of World War I in 1914. While the post-war world saw nations with crippled economies, soaring unemployment rates, and high inflation; the insurance sector persisted.
The insurance sector grew the most at this stage and by 1920, its income had doubled from 1913. By 1938, Algemeene Friesche and Groot Noordhollandsche joined forces to gain an upper hand in the market but continued to operate under their individual names.
However, in 1939 World War II broke out and the world fell into chaos once more.
The end of the Second World War began a strong period of growth for the insurance industry.
In 1988, three insurers—Algemeene Friesche, Groot Noordhollandsche and Olveh – joined forces to create a new company called AGO.
Just one year later, Ennia was born, thanks to the merger of Eerste Nederlandsche, Nieuwe Nederlandsche and Nillmij. Together, these two companies controlled 20% of the Dutch insurance market and soon waded into international markets.
As they continued to grow, these two companies began acquiring international companie. In 1979, AGO bought a stake in the US life insurance company Life Investors and Ennia acquired an 85% stake in the Spanish insurer Galicia S.A. in 1980.
1983 was the landmark year when AGO and Ennia merged to form Aegon. This set the stage for its ongoing journey of adapting to, and meeting, customer’s needs all around the world.
Aegon acquired a number of companies in the 1980s in Europe, especially in Spain. It was also at this time that Aegon went public in order to gain access to international capital markets and funding to fuel its growth.
In 1991, Aegon was listed on the New York Stock Exchange, its third exchange after the ones in Amsterdam and London.
The decade of expansion for Aegon. It acquired 40% stake in Scottish Equitable, one of the top names in the UK financial services industry. By 1988, it had taken over the entire company. A year later, Aegon acquired Guardian Royal Exchange’s life insurance operations.
Along with the UK, Aegon stretched its hands into Central and Eastern Europe as well. It bought a 75% stake in Állami Biztosító, Hungary’s former state-owned insurance company.
Aegon’s first foray into Asia was Taiwan. However, the decade’s biggest move came when Aegon acquired Transamerica, one of the best insurers in America.
The New Millennium
The millennium saw Aegon grow from strength to strength. In 2008, Aegon entered India with the launch of a joint venture, Aegon Religare Life Insurance Company. In 2015, with the amended legislation on foreign direct investment, Aegon increased its share into the joint venture to 49% and was renamed Aegon Life.
It operated in China between 2003-2014 as CNOOC, a joint venture between Aegon and China National Offshore Oil Company. In July 2015, Tsinghua Tongfang became the insurance giant’s new joint venture partner. The company renamed itself to Aegon THTF.
In 2013, Aegon Ireland (Variable Annuities) opened its first office in Germany keeping in mind the assets held by Germans aged between 55 and 80.
The same year, it entered into a 25-year exclusive distribution partnership with Banco Santander, Spain’s largest financial group. In 2014, the agreement was extended to Portugal.
In 2015, the company entered France. It entered into an agreement with La Banque Postale. According to the agreement, products will be distributed through La Banque Postale’s network offline and online.
As you read, Aegon’s journey has been an incredible one; surviving, and thriving, through economic rollercoasters, decades of war and tremendous technological advances. It is fitting that today, Aegon is one of the world’s largest insurers.